Delhi Police are working on a standard operating procedure (SOP) to regulate the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and drones in the city, said sources. The SOP is being planned for whenever the use of drones becomes common, but there could be restrictions on using them in high-security zones or nearby, added the sources.
The SOP could lay down stipulations around height to which drones can be flown and specify locations where they cannot be used, said a source. Moreover, discussions are also being held on issuing licences for drone use on the lines of those mandatory for guns, added the source.
Citing security threat and safety issues, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has restricted the use of drones in Indian airspace. Delhi Police used drones during riots in Trilokpuri in 2014 to keep an eye on potential troublemakers and their stockpile of bricks and stones. Drones flew over the locality and helped the police spot and seize a huge cache of bricks, sticks and bottles hidden in several places.
Work on the SOP started on the directions of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), said a source. At a meeting, Delhi Police officials were instructed to issue an SOP on drone use, which could be shared with other states later, added the source.
In October last year, the police registered a case after a suspicious drone was spotted multiple times near Indira Gandhi International airport. In December, a cash reward of Rs 1 lakh was announced for information of the person/persons who flew the drone. No one has been held so far in connection with that drone flight, said sources.
Also in October last year, security agencies had questioned a foreign national for operating a drone near Parliament. He claimed he was not aware of the restrictions and was let off, said sources.
A source aware of the work on the SOP said, “As of now, there is no policy for the use of drones in the city. But several private companies are manufacturing drones and are trying to commercialise their use.”