The Delhi government’s ambitious project of using drones for surveillance of its forests may take at least about six months to materialise.
According to government sources, among a number of clearances required from multiple agencies — including the Ministry of Defence and Director General of Civil Aviation —- to make the proposal a reality, finding persons with the expertise and technical know-how to man these drones will be the most challenging.
“We will need at least eight staff members who have the necessary diploma, training in Geo-spatial Information Science (GIS), who may have conducted surveys or have the knowledge of remote-sensing technology. Persons with such expertise will also expect a high pay. In all probability, they will have to be contractual employees,” a senior government functionary said.
Government officials said while the drone will not cost more than Rs 6 to 8 lakh, updating maps will be more expensive.
“Updating one map requires about Rs 18 to 20 lakh,” a senior official said. While the proposal is yet to be sent to the Finance department, officials say one drone will be enough to monitor the forest area in Delhi.
According to the Forest Survey of India’s report of 2013, the green cover, spread across 1,480 sq km, makes up for 20.08 per cent of Delhi’s geographical area.
“We will be monitoring forests to prevent encroachment on forest land. We will not need a 24-hour surveillance. We are still in talks with the National Remote-Sensing Centre in Hyderabad about the rates of drones, its frequency and other issues. We may first get one drone and test it for some time. If we need one more, it can be procured later,” the official told Newsline.
He added, “This is an ambitious project but we are committed to implementing it. However, since multiple agencies are involved, it will take at least another five to six months. The project will be achieved next fiscal.”
The government, in December 2014, had proposed drones to monitor encroachments and mapping various aspects of development. The Department of Forest and Wildlife had proposed the idea owing to manpower crunch.
According to officials, the drones that the department proposes to use can travel a distance of 40-50 km on auto pilot and can transmit real-time images and videos.