Treading path of Modi-govt, GoAP to ‘use’ drones in pilot projects in health, agri & disaster management sectors

ITANAGAR, Aug 16: Treading the path of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre, the GoAP post making out the potential of drones has decided to come up with pilot projects in areas like healthcare, agriculture, and disaster management, in partnership with the World Economic Forum (WEF).

This was stated by Chief Minister Pema Khandu while launching in virtual mode a drone service in the health sector – a pilot project on the occasion of 75th anniversary of Independence, as part of the ongoing Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations.

The first successful flight was conducted from Seppa to Chayang Tajo in East Kameng district.

Taking cue from the vision of PM Modi, the State has ventured into the drone service for supplying medicines and providing other essential services, leveraging technology to reach difficult terrains and the areas that remain cut off owing to rains and landslides.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Bharat Drone Mahotsav 2022 had said that India has the potential to become the world’s drone hub. He had further said that drones will ‘revolutionise’ how services are provided to the public and make it easier for providing government services,” stated Khandu.

Exuding confidence that the drone service ‘Medicine From The Sky’ was going to be a boon for Arunachal Pradesh given the hilly terrain and the fact that transport of medical supplies by road was a challenge, especially during the monsoon season when landslides cut-off some areas totally, the CM said the first pilot project would focus on transporting essential medicines, vaccines and diagnostic samples using drones instead of surface transport.

Detailing the pre-execution plan, Khandu stated that the detailed field assessment was conducted in July in East Kameng and Lower Subansiri districts after which the pilot project was launched from Seppa.

“The pilot project is expected to provide a clear picture on operational issues, financial feasibility and regulatory issues based on which the government will roll out a policy and take steps for phased adoption of this emerging technology,” he added.

The current pilot project is being funded by USAID and executed by Redwings Labs. 

Meanwhile, East Kameng Deputy Commissioner P Pravimal Abhishek, in his introductory note, spoke about how he witnessed the difficulty the Medical Department faced in carrying out COVID-19 vaccination and routine immunization in remote villages which became more challenging in hilly regions during the rainy season due to landslides rendering whole areas or villages inaccessible for any public service delivery.

Recognizing this problem, the GoAP signed an ‘MoA’ with the World Economic Forum in February 2022 to jointly explore the feasibility of using drones for various social impact projects in areas like healthcare, disaster management and agriculture.

As per the partnership, the project will be rolled out in three phases which will include detailed ground level assessment, limited operations with experienced players, and scaling up of the distribution network, the DC said.

In July 2022, the detailed ground level assessment in East Kameng district was completed, and the next phase involving a six-month long impact assessment study was launched on the 76th Independence Day, he added.

Further, the DC thanked the State Health Agency, World Economic Forum, Redwing Labs, and their sponsor USAID for choosing East Kameng as the base for such a unique project.

The drone flight scheduled from Seppa to Chayangtajo took 28 minutes to cover an aerial distance of 37 km.(CMO)