BENGALURU: The Centre’s new Drone Policy announced a fortnight ago has sent alarm bells ringing among security agencies tasked with ensuring safety of passengers and railway stations in Karnataka. Packed with people, the stations are vulnerable and drones make it easy to transport dangerous material, said sources.
According to a top railway source, the Government Railway Police (GRP) has sent recommendations to top officials in the South Western Railway Zone as well as the Intelligence Bureau, on the dangers inherent in the liberalised policy. A list has been drawn up of stations which need to declared as ‘No-Fly Zones for Drones’, the source said.
The new policy, released on August 26, has done away with the need for drone operators to get security clearance before registering a drone or seeking licence for it. Certificate of airworthiness, unique identification number and remote private licence for entities engaged in Research and Development of drones have also been removed.
A security audit, conducted by the GRP six weeks ago, had come up with a list of 20 Sensitive and 12 hypersensitive railway stations in the state. Drawing up on the list, it has requested that no-fly zones be declared, at least in the hypersensitive stations, including KSR (Bengaluru City), Yeswanthpur, Kalaburagi and Hubballi, and the sensitive stations.
A top security official pointed out that drones could be used along railway tracks to capture other aspects as well as conduct recces before attacks. “The danger and vulnerability is definitely there. That is why we are keen on seeking exemption from drone operation for key railway stations with high footfalls,” he said.
A top railway official said that such a policy decision will be taken by the Aviation Ministry for railway stations across the country.