NEW DELHI: The Centre on Saturday said that conditional exemption will be provided for experimental drone flights for Covid-19 vaccine delivery, even though the availability of the vaccines remains a major concern in most parts of India.
Under the project, the first trials are set to be conducted in Telangana at the end of this month.
The Union government said that the ministry of civil aviation and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have granted a conditional exemption to the state government for conducting experimental Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone flights for the delivery of vaccines.
The exemption has been granted from Unmanned Aircraft System rules, 2021.
Last month, Telangana was granted a conditional exemption for conducting experimental delivery of Covid-19 vaccines within the VLOS range using drones.
Now, to accelerate the drone deployment process to formulate application-based models, the grant has been extended to BVLOS, said the Centre.
Earlier, the ICMR was granted conditional exemption last month for conducting a feasibility study of Covid-19 vaccine delivery using drones in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.
The Centre said that the grant of these permissions is intended to achieve the dual objectives of faster vaccine delivery and improved healthcare access by ensuring primary healthcare delivery at the citizen's doorstep, limiting human exposure to Covid-congested or Covid-prone areas through aerial delivery.
It will also help in ensuring access to healthcare to the last mile, especially in remote areas, lead to a possible integration into the middle mile of medical logistics for long-range drones and improve medical supply chain, with millions of doses to be transported across India, the government claimed.