Government unveils liberal rules for drones

India notified a new set of liberal drone rules that could pave the way for these unmanned aircraft systems soon carrying both goods for e-commerce and transporting people on air taxis.

Following the intervention of the PMO, the aviation ministry junked the rules it had put in place just this March that had shackled drones in a plethora of clearances and went against ease of doing business. “This (new) policy has been put in place under careful monitoring directly by the PM with trust (in users) as its basis and (to ensure) economic welfare of people,” K Vijay Raghavan, principal scientific advisor to the government said.

India will have three airspace zones for drones — green, where they can be flown; yellow, where permission needed and red like airports where their use is barred unless specifically allowed. This map is expected within 30 days on the Digital Sky single window drone platform.

“Approvals, compliance requirements and entry barriers have been significantly reduced… will tremendously help start-ups and our youth working in this sector (and) help leverage India’s strengths in innovation, technology and engineering to make India a drone hub,” Modi Tweeted on Thursday.

Compared to the previous rules, the liberalised Drone Rules, 2021, abolished several approvals and reduces the number of forms to be filled by users from 25 to five. The maximum penalty for violations has been reduced to Rs 1 lakh. Fee amounts have also been reduced with the charge for a remote pilot license cut from Rs 3,000 (for a large drone) to Rs 100 for all categories and valid for 10 years. No remote pilot licence will be required for micro drones for non-commercial use and nano drones.

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