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State govt mulls turning Bengal into drone making hub of India

Kolkata: The Mamata Banerjee-government is trying to project Bengal as a drone manufacturing hub of India. The government has already earmarked some areas in Kalyani, Falta, Naihati and Sonarpur that can be used for drone testing and demonstration. The government is also considering the proposed Sonarpur hardware manufacturing park as a preferred destination for manufacturing drones by giving plots at affordable rates. The total land area for the hardware park is 10.72 acre that has been divided into 17 plots with the total allocable area as 7.42 acre.
"We have thoroughly examined the Drone Policy of the Central government that has been recently published in the "Requirements for Operation of Civil Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)". Next week we will communicate in writing to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) our feedback on the policy where we will share our detailed plan on how we are planning to project Bengal as a drone manufacturing epicenter of the country," a senior official of the state Information & Technology (IT) department said.
The state government and Webel has already consulted different organisations focusing on drone manufacturing, assembling and providing training on Unmanned Aircraft flying. "We have also taken the opinion of the different authorities like Kolkata Police, Kolkata Municipal Corporation and other eminent personalities experienced in Defence and Air Operations," the official added.
The IT department will also take all measures to ensure that the movement of drones do not pose any barrier to the smooth movement of aircraft. "We will do everything in a user-friendly manner and will leverage the existing infrastructure in Kalyani, Naihati, Falta in this venture," additional chief secretary, IT, Debashis Sen said.
Sen, who is also the chairman of West Bengal Housing & Infrastructure Development Corporation (HIDCO) had proposed monitoring and surveillance of cleanliness, traffic jams, road repair and solid waste management monitoring using drones.
DJI Phantom drones are available with cameras at less than Rs 1 lakh at various e-commerce sites. But import of drones — most of which are China made — are not allowed.
The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) is also toying with the idea of using drones to monitor accumulated clean water on the terraces of high-rises in the city and adjacent areas to fight dengue in a more effective manner.
The KMC health officials have told Member Mayor-in-Council (Health) Atin Ghosh that it has become extremely difficult for them to keep a vigil on residential as well as commercial high-rises.
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