Regulations on the use of drone in Indian marriages

Author- Anshika Sharma

What is a drone?

A drone in space and aviation is termed an unpiloted aircraft or spacecraft. It is also referred to and termed as an unmanned aerial vehicle. Drones on Earth are used often used for military purposes in combat zones where they do not want to risk the lives of the pilots. Drones are very much efficient and compatible as they can fly as long as they have fuel in them without any mechanical difficulties.

Originally drones were developed for military purposes but with the technological advancement of society, it has found its usage in the mainstream also as it brings with it not only safety but also efficiency. Drones serve as a perfect candidate for some of the toughest jobs in the world as they can be remotely controlled and flown to distant heights and places. As drones have entered and become popular amongst the new generation they serve the purpose of entertainment for many people and especially photographers.

Drone laws in india:

With drones gaining attention and popularity for domestic and personal uses, people have greatly shown their interest in the usage of drones in Indian marriages. The drone industry growing rapidly at a pace of over 40% per year with over 274,000 units sold commercially in 2018. The use of drones for such domestic purposes has however been guided and regulated by enormous rules and guidelines for various security reasons. With the ever-evolving ecosystem, the policymakers struggle and have quite a tough time matching the rate at which these drones are reaching homes.

However, in 2014, the use of drones for civil purposes was banned by the Court as it had come to the notice that a Mumbai based Pizzeria had used drones to airdrop pizzas in their vicinity. Though, this decision was seen as impractical in the following years as drones were easily available as toys in online stores. It took four years for the government agencies to start seeing the flaws and missed opportunity, as in 2018, the Government of India came up with a regulatory policy regarding the use of drones. Thus for using drones for wedding photography and aerial wedding shots there are a new set of DGCA Rules. A permit is required for flying drones, however, using drones for personal purposes is legal in India the only constraint that it should be compliant and aware of the drone regulations.

The Civil Aviation Ministry has come up with a new policy regulating the usage of unmanned aircraft for wedding purposes. Any violation of the new rules introduced might not only spoil the wedding but would also cause legal and police complications. The DGCA releases a fresh set of guidelines stating the do’s and the don’ts regarding the usage of drone across India, including the drones used for wedding photography.  

These new rules came into force on the 1st of December i.e. the wedding seasons and prohibited the wedding planners from the usage of drone wherever they wanted to. Following are the rules and regulations that need to be followed:

  • Nano drone: If one wants to avoid the hassle of government clearances and filling government forms then one can opt for getting a nano drone that weighs only 250 grams.
    • Nano drones do not require any permit from the DGCA and are also exempted from obtaining a Unique Identification Number.
    • One can fly a nano drone only up to 50 feet above ground level.
    • One needs to keep in mind that he/she does not fly the drone in controlled airspace or a place where other manned or unmanned aircraft are flying.
    • If the drone is flying in controlled airspace, you have to apply for UIN and UAOP. Also, your drone has to NPNT (No Permission – No Takeoff) complaint. It is therefore recommended to fly in uncontrolled airspace and enclosed premises only.
    • One also needs to keep in mind that an individual’s privacy is not invaded while using drones.
  • Micro Drone: Drones that are heavier than 250gm but less or equal to 2kgs, then such drones fall under the category of micro drones.
    • If one wishes to fly the drone 200 feet above the ground level then he/she needs to inform the local police 24 hours before the drone is used and the Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit s not required.
    • Your drone needs to be “No Permission – No Takeoff” (NPNT) compliant and you have to obtain permission through Digital Sky Platform before flying. The Digital Sky Platform is a first-of-its-kind national unmanned traffic management (UTM) platform which will be made available through the DGCA website from December 1.
    • Obtaining a Unique Identification Number is necessary.
    • If the drone is not used above 200 feet in uncontrolled airspace then UAOP is not required, however, informing the local police before using it is mandatory.
    • Using drones at night or after sunset i.e. within the visual line of sight is only permitted and restricted to daylight only. However, if you are shooting in well-lit enclosed premises using a micro drone up to 200 feet AGL is allowable.

In order to get a Unique Identification Number one has to pay Rs 1000 as fees to the DGCA and the cost for UAOP is around Rs 25,000 and is valid only for 5 years after which one has to renew the permit by paying Rs 10,000.

  • Small Drone: Drones weighing in the range of 2kg to 25kg come under the category of small drones and both need UAOP and UIN. It is mainly used for agricultural purposes and for spraying the pesticides another round of clearance is required.
  • Medium Drone: Drones weighing in the range of 25kg to less than or equal to 150kg come under the category of medium drones and are used for industrial and agricultural purposes. These medium drones can be used for various purposes like for the aerial collection of data for the industries which include mining, gas and oil exploration, highways and many such purposes.
  • Large Drones: The drones that weigh higher than 150kg come under the category of large drones and these are also used for industrial purposes.

With the new rules and regulations set for the use of drones for marriages, there are many photographers who feel that these new laws might be harsh on them if implemented strictly. Rathi Lal, Thirvuanantapuram based photographer stated that they usually carry out such wedding shoots near the backwaters or the beaches, but the new policy states that the areas near the coast are under the radar and thus this would make photoshoots a bit difficult. Also, the usage of drones inside the temples for Hindu marriages has been banned by the new policy.

Another wedding photographer from Kochi expressed that if the laws were implemented strictly then they would have to buy new helicams and the new ones would cost around 1.2 to 3 lakhs. It has been made compulsory for registering the device with a unique identification number. Also, the new guidelines would make shooting in the cities and such areas more difficult and trickier. There’s a 4km radius that is identified for the use of a drone. Another problem that these wedding photographers might face is of taking consent from the owners of the land that have been included in the video and that of informing the police station before the drone is used.

Penalties to be faced in case of violation of drone rules:

As per the rules, a penalty ranging from Rs 25,000 to Rs 500000 can be imposed in case of any violation depending upon the severity of the offence committed. A fine of Rs 5 lakh can be imposed if sub-section (1) of section (10) states that no person other than an authorised importer shall be authorized to import an unmanned aircraft system or parts in India. The same goes for the violation of section (11) that states how only an Authorised Unmanned Aircraft System Manufacturer can manufacture a drone. People who operate the drones in the restricted or the no operation area would have to pay a penalty of Rs 50000.

Conclusion:

One has to keep in mind that the new laws implemented are for the betterment and in the interests of national security purposes and thus should obey and acknowledge them as it comes. Thus the new laws are very much important and need to be followed by every drone using a person as there are many people who are involved in illegal activities which might pose an enormous threat to the national security of the country.