Government of India Bans Import of Drones
In a significant boost for the government’s “Make in India” campaign, it has announced a ban on import of foreign drones. The manufacture of drones in India is already a priority item that is covered under the Production linked Incentive (PLI) scheme to encourage domestic manufacture. Import of drones will be banned barring certain exceptions like the import of drones for R&D, defence and security purposes.
While the import of drones, other than the 3 exceptions mentioned above, has been banned, this ban does not extend to drone components. For instance, the import of drone components will continue to be permitted without taking any special approvals. This special notification banning foreign drone imports for most cases, was issued by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), affiliated to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
This circular effectively means that the imports of drones in CBU (Completely Built Up), CKD (Completely Knocked Down) and SKD (Semi Knocked Down ) form will be completely prohibited other than for specified applications. For instance, import of drones by government entities, recognized educational institutions, government recognised R&D entities and drone makers for R&D purpose will be permitted in CBU, SKD or CKD form.
All such imports, whether in CBU, SKD or CKD form, will be subject to import authorisation issued by Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) in consultation with the relevant ministries. This would apply to all drone import that are done under the exceptional list of drone imports. This ban on import of drones has come into effect from 09-February 2022 and is intended to promote “Made in India” drones as opposed to just importing the kits.
In India, drone regulation comes under the ambit of the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The said Ministry has already came out with liberalised drone rules in August 2021. Subsequently, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had also issued the drone airspace map and PLI scheme in September 2021, apart from the UTM policy framework in October 2021. Drone certification scheme and single window Digital-Sky Platform were also put in place in January 2022.
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