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Drones to soon shoot photos and videos in forests of Uttarakhand

DEHRADUN: Wildlife enthusiasts and visitors will be soon able to shoot pictures and videos using drones in protected forest areas, including those in the  Corbett Tiger Reserve. The forest department has decided to permit drone photography and videography in state forests and protected areas. Uttarakhand is home to two tiger reserves, including Corbett, and seven sanctuaries.

“The decision has been taken to promote ecotourism and make the state more friendly for wild life enthusiasts and conservationists,” Parag Madhukar Dhakate, coordinator of ‘Forest Drone Force’ of the forest department, said. “Drones weighing less than 250 grams do not require the permission from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. This will make it easy for the department to grant permission  (to operated such drones).”

At the same time, every such picture and video will be subject to clearance from the forest department before it is allowed to be released in the public domain.Also, no permission will be given to the visitors to operate such drones at international border areas of Uttarakhand. “The move is thrilling as pictures and videos will be possible with a lesser risk for both humans and wild animals. I hope security concerns will be taken care of,” Puneet Sudesh Sachdeva, a Mumbai-based wildlife enthusiast who visits Corbett every year, said.

In December last year, Uttarakhand became the first state in the country to have a special force of drones to keep tab on criminal activities in forest areas. The forest drone force, which is equipped with 25 drones, focuses on checking illegal mining, patrolling high altitude areas, illegal tree felling, poaching and various other anti-wildlife and anti-environment activities.

Strict rules for flying Drones
In India, drones are classified as nano (less than or equal to 250g), micro (over 250g and less than or equal to 2g), small (over 2kg and less than or equal to 25kg), medium (over 25kg and less than or equal to 150kg) and large (over 150kg). Nano drone need not obtain permission before undertaking a flight, while all other categories must mandatorily obtain permission through  Digital Sky platform.