Major Shift in India’s Drone Regulation

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India’s central government has liberalized the rules for unmanned aircraft systems. Under Drone Rules 2021, several requirements and approvals have been abolished and this is expected to make drone operations simpler for civilian drone operators. The focus of policy has shifted from precaution to maximization of drone usage in the country. 

The liberalized regime for civilian drones marks a clear shift in policy by the government to allow operations of such drones and highlights the government’s intent to allow the use of drones while at the same time ensuring security from rogue drones through the anti-rogue drone framework that was announced in 2019. 

The total number of forms that were to be filled has been reduced from 25 to five, and the total number of fees that are to be paid before being able to operate drones has been reduced from 72 to just four. Various approvals that were required have been abolished.

In addition to this, the quantum of fees, which was earlier linked to the size of the drone, has been reduced and delinked from the drone’s size, according to 

Earlier, prior to the issuance of a registration or license, a security clearance was necessary. Now, the government has done away with the need for this clearance. Also, on the part of companies operating drones, foreign ownership has been allowed. However, the import of drones will continue to be regulated by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade.

The rules are based on the premise of trust and self-certification. Approvals, compliance requirements and entry barriers have been significantly reduced,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet. “The new Drone Rules will tremendously help start-ups and our youth working in this sector. It will open up new possibilities for innovation & business,” he added.