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Government to put in place system for regulating UAVs: Home Secretary

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.

To check use of 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’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>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.”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.

Drone eyes in sky keeping intruders off Vidarbha’s Pench tiger reserve

“There has been a fall in poaching and illegal entry after the drone was deployed (a few months ago). People are aware that they are being watched,” said Reddy,

The big cats of the Pench tiger project in Vidarbha as well as the flora and fauna there can now rely on the eyes in the sky to protect them from poachers and tree-fellers. The officials have pressed into service a drone which will keep an eye out for intruders, be it to hunt animals or fish in the reservoir there. Located near Nagpur, the Pench tiger reserve is the first in Maharashtra and the second in India after the Panna tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh to procure an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for conservation purposes. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Buoyed by the success, officials are planning to procure and deploy more drones to effectively cover reserve’s 257.26 sq.km core area and a 483.96 sq.km buffer zone, habitating 21 tigers, 33 species of mammals, over 160 species of birds, reptiles, fishes and amphibians. “We are using the drone to get an aerial view of the park,” MS Reddy, chief conservator of forests and field director of the Pench project told dna. “It provides us an aerial view of the park, its water bodies and helps map the area,” he said, adding the drone was being used for aerial reconnaissance, protection, photography and documentation. The drone can stream live photos and videos though it is not equipped with a night-vision camera as of now.”There has been a fall in poaching and illegal entry after the drone was deployed (a few months ago). People are aware that they are being watched,” said Reddy, adding the “idea itself acts as a deterrent”. “We are also using it to watch if fishing is taking place in the Pench reservoir, in violation of the ban. It helps us devise a strategy after estimating the strength of the fishermen,” he said. The drone in use costs around Rs 1.10 lakh and plans are afoot to buy bigger ones. “We are going in for bigger ones, as the one in use has a flight time of just 15 minutes. We are looking for a UAV which has a flight time of over one hour,” he added. Around 20 forest personnel have been trained in using the drone. “Technology is a great help in conservation,” he noted, adding the drone could observe intruders from a distance and could stay safe unlike camera traps which could be easily accessed and damaged. Located at a distance of around 70km from Nagpur, the Pench tiger reserve was declared as India’s 25th tiger reserve in 1999. It also has an eco-tourism area. The reserve is an important corridor between the forest areas of Madhya Pradesh (Pench Tiger Reserve) and Nagzira-Navegaon and Tadoba- Andhari Tiger Reserves in Maharashtra. African safariPlayers and coaches of the South African cricket team visited Pench on Saturday for a tiger safari. The team could get a glimpse of the big cat, a leopard and other birds and animals, said Reddy. Senior forest department officials and experts accompanied them.

Second army operated UAV crash within fortnight

The November 19 crash, in fact, was the loss of all four UAVs developed by the Defence Research and Development Research (DRDO) under an indigenous project called ‘Nishant UAV’ and inducted in Army in 2011.

Second army operated Unmanned Aerial Vehicle crash within fortnight; DRDO Project to develop more of them to be grounded An indigenously developed Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) – used for reconnaissance- belonging to the Indian Army crashed Thursday near Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, leading to second such incident within a span of fifteen days. The cause of the crash was a technical snag, officials said. On November 4, at Pokhran in Jaisalmer itself, an another UAV crashed during a training exercise.The November 19 crash, in fact, was the loss of all four UAVs developed by the Defence Research and Development Research (DRDO) under an indigenous project called ‘Nishant UAV’ and inducted in Army in 2011.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The entire project cost was close to Rs100 odd crores. A senior defence ministry official who did not wish to be named also said that the army is no more interested in Nishant UAVs, as a result of their poor performance and this, he said, “has been clearly communicated to DRDO”.What this will entail is scrapping of the second phase of Nishant UAV project under which few more of them were to be developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment, a Bengaluru based DRDO lab.Conceived as early as in 1988, DRDO began first test flight of Nishant project in mid-1990s.From their traditional primary role of surveillance, UAVs are now being increasingly used in electronic strike missions, for destroying enemy air defence and communication networks.UAVs are used across the world for air reconnaissance, surveillance and in some cases, even hitting ground targets. They help correct the course of firing by the Artillary units.Since the UAVs fly at low levels, detecting them by radars become difficult.

Will not undertake Rambo-style operations in Naxal areas: CRPF chief

New Delhi: CRPF will desist from undertaking any “Rambo”-style operations in the Naxal-affected areas even as the standard operating procedures in that regard are being rejigged, the chief of the country’s largest paramilitary force has said.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Also, in the Left Wing-Extremism operations theatre, more than one lakh central security troops, apart from state police forces, will now be able to get better feed and intelligence data from technological gadgets as the NTRO’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) base has now been operationalised right inside the Naxal hotbed in Chhattisgarh.

“We don’t need to do Rambo-style operations… we don’t want that. When we ask our boys to perform a task (in Naxal-affected areas), they do it with a prompt sincerity and hence it is our responsibility to see that they are safe,” CRPF Director General Prakash Mishra told PTI.

The former Odisha DGP, who took charge of the lead anti-Naxal operations force a few months back, said that the operations of the force will now be more focused and intelligence-based rather than being done by deploying security personnel in “herds” to effect a Rambo-type offensive that requires a huge number of boots on the ground.

“We believe quality operations with specific intelligence should be the aim. I have already said all large operations where a large mobilisation of forces is required will need to get clearance from the headquarters,” the DG said.

He added that the SOPs in this regard were being “fine-tuned and rejigged”.

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) chief, after taking charge of the three-lakh-strong force in December of last year, had made it known that his “top priority” was to ensure fewer or zero casualties involving personnel in anti-Naxal operations.

Mishra had earlier said that such operations, where there are a big number of troops on the ground, leads to larger visibility of personnel in the operation area, thereby making them vulnerable, tired and easier to be spotted and identified.

Close to 100 security personnel were killed in these operations last year with the major cause of death being Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks or ambushes staged either by Naxal or security forces.

The DG, who has toured almost all the major Naxal-violence affected states, said that the new UAV base in Chhattisgarh’s Bhilai was a step in the direction of giving better intelligence and technical aid to the troops on the ground.

The UAVs were till now based in Andhra Pradesh and used to undertake sorties from there under directions of the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO).

Efforts to get the UAV base located in the Naxal heartland gained momentum after security forces complained about the delay in the help being provided by these machines owing to the distance from their base to the scene of Maoist activity.

Mishra said that anti-Naxal operations in all the states were being conducted keeping in mind the new motto.

PTI

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