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NEW DELHI/BANGALORE : The Union government’s Wednesday night decision to ban the import of drones will drive rapid advancements in domestic drone manufacturing, industry executives said. However, this would be bad news for drone enthusiasts, who import them for photography, video and other leisurely activities.

“If you see the fine details of it (the notification), it is a good thing for us. They have actually given clarity on the import of components. Earlier, there was none," said Swapnik Jakkampudi, co-founder of Skye Air Mobility, a drone delivery technology company.

“On the back of the PLI (production linked incentive) scheme and greater demand for drones, we hope most of the electronic components that have to be imported can be procured locally soon," Jakkampudi added.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has banned the import of foreign drones with certain exceptions to promote their local manufacturing. The import of drones for research and development purposes (R&D) and defence and security are exempt from the ban but will require clearances.

The development comes days after the Union budget proposed the Drone Shakti scheme to facilitate the application and use of ‘drones as service’ in the country. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said startups would be promoted to facilitate Drone Shakti through varied applications, with the required skill courses beginning soon.

The budget also proposed drones spray insecticides and nutrients on farms and conduct crop assessments to help the farm community.

Last September, the government had approved a production-linked incentive scheme for manufacturing drones and drone components in the country.

A government official said that while there is no ban on drone component imports, semi-knocked down (SKD) and completely knocked down (CKD) drone imports have been prohibited under the notification. “SKD and CKD essentially come as a single package per drone which simply needs to be assembled. That will not be allowed. But components, if they come separately, they will be allowed," the official said, requesting anonymity.

“The idea is to provide a fillip to drone manufacturing in India. Allowing components will help manufacturers with the required raw materials or inputs and be able to use the PLI scheme," the official added.

A drone industry executive said that most of India’s drone technology/delivery companies import flight controllers and motors while procuring other parts locally as per their airframe design. Therefore, the decision to ban drone imports is likely to hurt enthusiasts, who use drones for aerial photography, videography and other uses, and those that typically import the full drone, the person said under the condition of anonymity.

The latest notification will, however, create an environment to advance the (domestic) drone manufacturing ecosystem, said Smit Shah, president of the Drone Federation of India, a body that promotes the unmanned aviation industry in India.

“Most companies are importing a lot of (drone) parts, but none of them are importing the whole drone," Shah added.

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