Drones are map­ping In­dian cities - where they’re al­lowed

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

Of­fi­cials in one of In­dia’s fastest grow­ing cities are us­ing un­manned aerial ve­hi­cles (UAVs) to up­date land records in a pi­lot project that could be rolled out across the coun­try if rules gov­ern­ing the use of drones were sim­pler, au­thor­i­ties said.

Haryana state’s Project Udaan, or flight, is map­ping the tech­nol­ogy hub of Gur­gaon, a satel­lite town of Delhi, and the towns of Sohna and Mane­sar in north­ern In­dia. The drone images are be­ing used to up­date decades-old land records, check en­croach­ments and re­solve dis­putes over land and prop­erty. “While land records are meant to be up­dated ev­ery five years, this is not done reg­u­larly and there are in­vari­ably er­rors, even with satel­lite im­agery,” said T.L. Satyaprakash, deputy com­mis­sioner in Gur­gaon. “That is why we are us­ing drones, as they are more pre­cise. So we can ver­ify and rec­tify the land records be­fore they are dig­i­tized,” he told the Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion.

In­dia has em­barked on a land record mod­ern­iza­tion pro­gram to sur­vey lands, up­grade records and es­tab­lish own­er­ship. The project is sched­uled to con­clude in 2021 at a cost of 110 bil­lion ru­pees ($1.6 bil­lion). De­lays in map­ping lands and au­then­ti­cat­ing own­er­ship have caused dis­putes that stall de­vel­op­ment projects, spark­ing lengthy court bat­tles. Mat­ters re­lated to land and prop­erty make up about two thirds of all civil cases in In­dia, ac­cord­ing to Daksh, a le­gal ad­vo­cacy group based in Ben­galuru.

Haryana state of­fi­cials sourced drones from Science and Tech­nol­ogy Park, Pune to take high­res­o­lu­tion images ev­ery three months to record boundaries, il­le­gal con­struc­tions and en­croach­ments of forests and pub­lic lands, Satyaprakash said. These images were then checked against ex­ist­ing land records and verified with vil­lage coun­cils in ru­ral ar­eas be­fore be­ing up­dated, said R.S. Hooda, chief en­gi­neer at Haryana Space Ap­pli­ca­tions Cen­tre, which is also work­ing on the project. “Drones are cheaper now com­pared to some years ago, as they are be­ing made in In­dia, and the images are far su­pe­rior to satel­lite images,” he said. “This project can be repli­cated else­where quite eas­ily, but the guide­lines for drone use are rather strict, in­clud­ing where they can fly, so their use is lim­ited.”

Drones are in­creas­ingly used in In­dia to curb de­for­esta­tion and check il­le­gal min­ing and quar­ry­ing. But rules gov­ern­ing their use dif­fer in ev­ery state, with per­mis­sions needed from the lo­cal po­lice and the de­fence min­istry to op­er­ate them, Hooda said. The Direc­torate Gen­eral of Civil Avi­a­tion is­sued a draft pol­icy on the use of civil­ian UAVs ear­lier this year, which said all UAVs must be reg­is­tered and that per­mits to op­er­ate them would be is­sued on a “case to case ba­sis”.

Drones are barred from fly­ing over cer­tain ar­eas, in­clud­ing mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties, the en­tire air space over Delhi, and near in­ter­na­tional borders. “It is a chal­lenge - if it were a lit­tle eas­ier to use drones, we can map more ar­eas quickly. — Reuters

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