Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Drones get a major lift this budget for agriculture & other sectors

New Delhi: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech on Tuesday said that this fiscal’s revised estimate of capital expenditure (Rs 6.03 lakh crore) includes an amount of Rs 51,971 crore towards the settlement of “outstanding guaranteed liabilities of Air India and its other sundry commitments.”

The total budgetary support to AI and AI Asset Holding Limited (AIAHL) in FY 21-22 is Rs 62,057 crore. AIAHL had raised EBRs by issuing fully serviced (by government) bonds of upto Rs 7,000 crore in FY 2019-20 to refinance AIs debt transferred to AIAHL.

Meanwhile, the Union Budget has paved the way for using drones in various sectors, including agriculture. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said “use of ‘kisan drones’ will be promoted for crop assessment, digitisation of land records, spraying of insecticides, and nutrients… Startups will be promoted to facilitate ‘drone shakti’ through varied applications and for drone-As-A-Service (DrAAS). In select ITIs, in all states, the required courses for skilling will be started.”

Listing it among “sunrise opportunities”, the FM added: “Artificial intelligence, geospatial systems and drones, semiconductor and its eco-system… have immense potential to assist sustainable development at scale and modernise the country. They provide employment opportunities for youth, and make Indian industry more efficient and competitive.”

Thanking the FM “for giving a boost, yet again, to the drone sector through drone shakti and kisan drones,”, Union aviation minister J M Scindia tweeted, “Drone as a service will be a key driver of growth for both, the drone industry and beneficiary sectors.”

Arc Ventures MD Arjun Aggarwal said the announcements “will not only encourage India's atmanirbar drone eco-system, but also is critical for ensuring our agriculture sector remains globally competitive.”

“Through this budget, the government has enabled the drone ecosystem to take off by offering a structured impetus promoting both Atmanirbhar Bharat and the adoption of UAV's across sectors. Complimenting these announcements were many pre-budget initiatives such as production linked incentives for drone manufacturers, 100% subsidy on purchase of drones by recognised agriculture institutes & low interest loans for farmers to access modern technologies.”

01/02/22 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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