Context: The drone deployment permission has been granted for large scale mapping of inhabited areas of villages under the central government scheme - Survey of villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas (SVAMITVA). 

  • Survey of India is the National Survey and Mapping Organization of the country under the Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India.

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  • Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have granted conditional exemption to Survey of India (Sol) from Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2021. 
  • This permission grant will allow Large Scale Mapping (LSM) by Survey of India using drones. 
  • The demarcation of Abadi areas would be done using Drone Surveying technology, with the collaborative efforts of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, State Panchayati Raj Department, State Revenue Department. 
    • The Abadi area includes inhabitant land, inhabited areas contiguous to Abadi and wadis/basties in rural areas 

Objective of aerial survey

  • The aerial surveillance would generate high resolution and accurate maps to confer ownership property rights. 
    • Based on these maps or data, property cards would be issued to the rural household owners.
  • The digital spatial data/maps created under drone survey will be leveraged for the creation of the spatial analytical tools to support preparation of the Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP). 

“Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas’ (SVAMITVA)

  • A Central Sector Scheme, “Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas’ (SVAMITVA) was launched by the Prime Minister on 24th April 2020. 
  • The pilot phase of the Scheme was implemented during 2020–2021 in States of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh and few border villages of Punjab & Rajasthan. 
  • Ministry: SVAMITVA (Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas) scheme is a collaborative effort of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, State Panchayati Raj Departments, State Revenue Departments and Survey of India.
  • Objective: The scheme aims to provide the ‘record of rights’ to village household owners in rural abadi areas and issuance of Property cards.
  • Duration: The Scheme has been approved for implementation at an outlay of Rs 566.23 cr across the country in phased manner over a period of five years (2020-2025) and would eventually cover approx. 6.62 lakh villages of the entire country.


  • The Scheme has the potential to transform rural India. 
  • It will pave the way for using property as a financial asset by villagers for taking loans and other financial benefits, as in the case in towns and cities.  
  • The SVAMITVA scheme aims to provide an integrated property validation solution for rural India.

The Unmanned Aircraft System Rules, 2021

  • Unmanned Aircraft means an aircraft, which is intended to operate with no pilot on board and UAS includes these and the associated elements.
  • Categories: Aeroplane, Rotorcraft and Hybrid unmanned aircraft system.
  • Sub-categories: Remotely piloted, Model remotely piloted and Autonomous unmanned aircraft systems.
  • Remotely piloted aircraft have been divided into five categories based on their weight-
    • Nano : Less than or equal to 250 grams.
    • Micro : From 250 grams to 2kg.
    • Small : From 2 kg to 25kg.
    • Medium : From 25kg to 150kg.
    • Large : Greater than 150kg
  • The rules are mandatory for individuals and companies to obtain approval from the DGCA to import, manufacture, trade, own or operate drones
  • Drones weighing more than 250 grams (gm) can only be flown by a remote pilot with permission from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for every flight.
  • A permit will be needed to use a drone other than those in the nano category, weighing 250gm or less.
  • Micro and small UAS are not permitted from flying above 60m and 120 m, respectively.
  • All UAS, except nano category, have to be equipped with flashing anti-collision strobe lights, flight data logging capability, secondary surveillance radar transponder, real-time tracking system and 360 degree collision avoidance system, among others.

How can drones be operated in India?

  • The basic operating procedure will restrict drone flights to the daytime only and that too within “Visual Line of Sight (VLOS)”. This applies to all categories. 
  • Also, along with other SOPs, the DGCA has clarified that no remote pilot can operate more than one RPA at any time. Plus, manned aircraft will also get priority. 
  • There can’t be any human or animal payloads, or anything hazardous. 
  • It cannot in any manner cause danger to people or property. 
  • Insurance will be mandatory to cover third-party damage.