To check use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) by rogue elements to carry out terror attacks, the government is mulling to put in place a system to detect and defeat such threats and regulate low flying objects.
Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said there was a need for regulating Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to prevent its misuse, particularly in populated areas and sensitive locations like airports.
“We need to go into regulations. We need to have a system to detect and destruct rouge aircraft… We have to ensure that UAVs are not hijacked by rouge elements and misused,” he said addressing a seminar on ‘India’s Internal Security and UAVs’.
The Home Secretary said the process of detection and destruction of UAVs is an evolving process and experts are still working on it.
“That is an evolving technology. People are still getting into it, how to do what to do, how to destroy them. It is difficult for UAVs as it has very little footprints. If it is detected in a populated areas or in an airport or in a runway, we don’t know what would be the impact of its destruction. We really don’t aware what would be the consequences,” he said.
Mehrishi said putting in place certain regulations in operating UAVs have two aspects — preventive and enabling — and the government was working on both.
“We have to work to prevent illegal things from happening…We also have to do enabling, licencing (of the UAVs),” he said.
The Home Secretary said the government was also exploring the option of using UAVs for works like surveillance in large establishments such as refineries, secure oil pipelines from being broken or stolen, crime detection etc.
“One positive side of the homeland security (of the use of UAVs), whether to send relief in a disaster situation, how to send medicine, delivery of food, whether it is for traffic management and probably detection of crime.
“So, homeland security is an issue we have to look forward. We are in the Home Ministry ….little concern about certain things in homeland security. We are currently doing that…including the issue of infiltration from the western side of the border from the hostile neighbour,” he said.
Mehrishi, however, said infiltration from across the Indo-Pak border has come down to almost negligible level even though there were areas that need to be secured through technology and increasing capacity, including by using UAVs.
“One important aspects for us is to reduce boots on the ground. We are also using technology intensively so that we ensure security and less personnel on the ground,” he said.
The Home Secretary said there was a need for homeland security specific facilities such as how to detect ungrounded mines where our security forces are exposed to in certain areas of the country.
Addressing the seminar, Air Marshal V R Chaudhary strongly pitched for bringing UAVs and all low flying objects under the ambit of some rules and regulations as they were “security threat”.
“UAVs are security threat which may impact airliner carrying passengers. …we need to regulate UAVs. They should be given permission for selected areas. We are not advocating complete ban on these kinds of machines. What we are saying is that they should be regulated,” he said.
Air Marshal Chaudhary referred to three incidents where UAVs posed possible security threats — detection of an UAV at Delhi’s IGI Airport on October 27, an UAV entering White House in Washington in January this year and landing of an UAV at a hall where German Chancellor Angela Merkel was speaking.
“One can order an UAV on the Internet. The easy availability of UAVs on the Internet, its small size is definitely a security threat,” he said.
Air Marshal Chaudhary said UAVs are difficult to detect as they operate within the line of sight and low speed. It is difficult to detect in a crowded environment.
“However, it has the potential to damage. Even the smallest of UAV can carry upto two kgs of RDX. One can well imagine the potential of damage a UAV can cause if it is detonated,” he said.
Air Marshal Chaudhary said currently UAVs are not under any regulation and hence its operation can’t be banned completely and action can be taken against any violator only under IPC.
“There are lots of example globally where UAVs, due to going out of sight or going out of control of operator, creating potential damage or hazard to civil aviation,” he said.
The IAF officer said there should be concerted effort to check potential threat from such unconventional platforms like UAVs, paragliders, hot air balloons.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines