Buoyed by the successful use of drones for crowd control, traffic management and crime prevention at the recent Krishna Pushkarams, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu plans to use the technology for better administration. He has directed his officials to prepare a roadmap for using drone technology for real-time governance inputs.
At a review meeting with officials of the Andhra Pradesh Fiber Grid project, Naidu said that drone use should be expanded to include tourism, agriculture, mines, forests, irrigation projects, law and order maintenance and municipal administration. A four-member committee would be set up to prepare the roadmap based on international examples. The committee will formulate the necessary guidelines and set up a single-window system for implementation of plans. Japan and America are way ahead in the use of this technology both in agriculture and in administration.
There will be a state-level command centre in the capital and regional centres in Vishakapatnam, Vijayawada, Tirupati and Anantapur, and also district-level centres for better coordination. This will lead to real-time decision making and efficient and responsive administration. These drones could also be used for checking illegal mining, help monitor highway traffic and serve administrative needs in a number of other sectors.
In fact, the AP government has already approved the use of drones with high resolution cameras which will keep a 'hawk eyed' watch over the entire Seshachalam forest to keep away red sander smugglers. This is in addition to the forest department's plans to dig a 1,500 km-long trench around the red sander areas to stop smugglers.
In the first phase, the government will procure six drones, each costing Rs. 70 lakhs. If satisfied there will be further orders. Red sanders is available in the Seshachalam forest in an area of about 5,500 sq km and there are 1.4 crore red sanders trees in the forest. The wood has a huge demand in China, Japan and East Asia, where it is used for making cosmetic products, furniture, musical instruments and drugs. Each tonne of red sanders commands a price of Rs 25 to Rs 30 lakh in the international market.
The Indian government has launched a collaborative research project involving use of drone technology in farming sector for assessing quality of soil and compensation for losses due to flood. Used mainly for agriculture, the project aims to implement Hyperspectral Remote Sensing using drone systems and developing a locally researched prototype for soil health monitoring and integrating it with satellites for large scale agricultural applications in the future. This technology will be used primarily in farming sector at regional/local levels for assessing land and crop health; extent, type and severity of damage, issuing forewarning, and settlement of compensation under crop insurance schemes.