Indian drones to aid crop cover scheme

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The central government is working on a project to develop indigenous drones to settle insurance claims under the newly launched crop insurance scheme — Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) — and other such products.

The drones are expected to enable insurance firms to assess damage accurately and vet claims so that settlement can be expedited. Under PMFBY, insurers have to settle claims within 45 days of the application made.
The drones, being developed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, are part of a comprehensive project to develop a drone-based crop and soil monitoring system using hyperspectral remote sensing sensors called Sensagri.

The project is funded by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, Information Technology Research Academy, and Indian Council for Scientific Research.

If successful, this technology could be integrated with satellite-based technologies for large-scale applications, which would further smoothen the crop damage assessment.

Officials said drone technology-based unmanned aerial vehicles have the ability to scout over farms, gather precise information and transmit the data on a real-time basis.

The information on drone- based technology for crop damage assessment was also shared by Sudarshan Bhagat, minister of state for agriculture, in Parliament recently.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation had in May released a draft paper with guidelines for permission to fly civil unmanned aircraft. It had highlighted the increasing civil use of unmanned aircraft for damage assessment of property and life due to natural calamity, and infrastructure monitoring.

Till date, 22 states and Union territories are implementing PMFBY, of which 19 have already issued tenders.