Drone activities | According to the DGCA, the Digital Sky platform would be completely operational by October.

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Financial help of up to 40% of the cost of the drone and its attachments, or Rs 4 lakh, whichever is less, is available to perform agricultural services using drones.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the regulatory body under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, has announced that Digital Sky, an online platform for different operations linked to the management of drones in India, will be completely operational by October 2022.

Set 2 of Phase 2 of Digital Sky, which includes features such as applying for a remote pilot certificate, application for starting a Remote Pilot Training Organization, pilot certificate, and flight plan submission, will be enabled by July this year, according to DGCA Assistant Director Manish Gupta, who spoke at the National Conference on Promotion of Kisan Drones: Issues, Challenges, and Way Forward.

Set 3 of Phase 2 will be enabled by October, with features such as Situational Awareness upgrades, beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations, suspension, cancellation, or revocation of authorization, and compliance with Drone Rules 2021, according to Gupta. The DGCA had already released India’s airspace map for drone operations on an open platform in September 2021.

The event was opened by Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar, who informed the audience that the government was providing a 50 percent subsidy, up to Rs 5 lakh, to scheduled castes and tribes, women, and small farmers in northeastern states to purchase drones in order to promote the use of Kisan Drones.

Tomar also stated that existing and new custom hiring centres under the Cooperative Society of Farmers, Farmers Producer Organizations, and rural entrepreneurs provide financial assistance in the amount of 40% of the basic cost of a drone and its attachments or Rs 4 lakh, whichever is less, in order to provide agricultural services through drones.

The execution of the subsidies, according to Smit Shah, president of the Drone Federation of India, is a challenge. “At the state level, the subsidy distribution mechanism is still unclear. It necessitates central handholding and tracking “At the event, Shah stated. He also mentioned that banks were not recognising drones as part of the Agriculture Infra Fund, and that awareness programmes were needed.

Aside from that, he asked the government to produce standard operating procedures in several languages for the use of drones in agriculture, as well as make crop spraying sensitization movies.