The Odisha Government is toying with the idea of procuring mini- unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for their deployment in anti-Naxal operations and intelligence gathering.
It has also sought a demonstration from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) which uses the UAVs during its operations. Home Secretary U N Behera held a meeting with the CRPF IG and senior police officers manning modernisation, intelligence and provisioning in this regard.
While the Government is tightlipped over the issue given its sensitive nature, the deployment plan has got stronger over the last few months.
In November last year, Tata Advanced Systems officials had made a presentation before the Government on the benefits of deployment of the unmanned aerial vehicles which are manufactured in different variants, sizes and are having different utilities.
“There was a discussion on it, but it is strictly an operational matter and hence, cannot be disclosed,” a senior official said.
In March, the Union Home Ministry had pressed a UAV at Daringibadi in Kandhamal district even as two Italian tourists were held hostage by the Left Wing Extremists (LWEs). It was for the first time that a UAV was used in Odisha for an anti-extremist operation.
The State Government has been cautious in its approach though. It had sought a demonstration of UAV earlier and wanted the CRPF to present another round of demonstration to assess the utility.
“The UAVs can gather real-time pictures, audio and video and transmit the same even while flying, but the output is sometimes limited. During cloudy and foggy conditions and terrains with thick foliage, the result appears to be mixed. So, the matter is still under discussion,” the sources added.
So far, UAVs have been used on experimental basis in Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh where results were encouraging.
The CRPF, on its part, has been using the UAVs to gather information about their operations. Sources said the mini vehicles are also sourced from National Technical Research Organisation to be used for operational purposes by agencies such as the CRPF.