Himachal Pradesh government will employ unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to accelerate the development in the hill state. The government is drawing up a policy on the use of drones besides formulating standard operating procedures for their use.
The drone technology in Himachal will be used by police, revenue, health, agriculture, horticulture, forest, and mining departments.
The department of information and technology, which has been entrusted with the procurement of drones, has invited tenders to make the purchase.
Eight companies have participated in the tender process. After the financial bid, the government will decide whether to buy or rent drones.
The HP government wants to make the surveillance network more efficient in the police as well as use drones for supply of medicines in the far-flung and tribal areas. Drones are currently being used by the police for surveillance and to check illegal cultivation of cannabis.
UAVs will also be used to keep a vigil on the mining mafia and agricultural purposes such as spraying pesticides.
The state police have some drones, but there is a demand for more. The IT department has also received demand for drones from health, agriculture and horticulture departments.
The central government has made a policy to get multiple types of work done with the help of drones and a drone policy has been made accordingly in Himachal Pradesh. The health department will use drones for the supply of medicines.
Local district administration and health department have planned to start trials for a drone-based delivery of vaccines and health services in Chamba district from February 14 to 17 in collaboration with Skye Air Company.
Deputy commissioner DC Rana said during this period, modern equipment like drones would be used to transport samples of patients from remote areas to big hospitals and laboratories for various tests besides transportation of medicines and Covid vaccination kits from big hospitals to health institutions in distant areas.
The civil aviation department in Himachal is working on the SOPs for the usage of drones in Himachal. The police have also suggested the aerial space along with recommending the government to issue licences to the agencies for usage of drones. The air space will be categorised into three zones — green, yellow and red.
Agriculture and farmers’ welfare: Drones can be employed for crop and soil health monitoring, irrigation estimation and scheduling, fertiliser and pesticide spray requirement and efficacy assessment, crop production estimation, river and canal erosion and insurance claim surveys
Health: Delivery of medicines, equipment and other supplies, pathology testing and sample collection from remote or pandemic-affected areas
Panchayati raj and revenue: For land records and property rights, demarcations
Defence: Surveillance, warfare, communication in remote areas, swarm drone and counter-drone solutions
Urban development department: Urban planning and management, construction planning and monitoring, incident reporting, encroachment prevention and land-use change
Transport: Surveillance, incident response, inspection and maintenance, project monitoring and disaster management
Mining department: Monitoring and inspection, automated survey and mapping, reserves assessment and management and transportation road optimisation.