The government's incubation fund DISHA that will promote indigenous manufacturing of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will be allocated less than Rs 500 crore due to the coronavirus-triggered economic "recession", Aviation Ministry Joint Secretary Amber Dubey said on Tuesday.
The DISHA fund will give financial support to Indian startups and researchers to manufacture drones or UAVs for use in four sectors -- infrastructure, security, healthcare and agriculture.
"These are the four big bang areas we are focusing on. We started with a big bang number of Rs 2,000 crore (allocation), brought it down to Rs 500 crore. All of this was before March so the number may come down even further because the reality is in front of us. We are in the midst of the worst recession in 100 years," Mr Dubey said at a webinar organised by ideaForge, a dronemaker.
Pointing to coronavirus-triggered economic slowdown, he said this is a time when small and medium enterprises are struggling and migrants, unemployed and underprivileged people have to be supported by the government.
"So, who the hell is going to talk about drones and high-tech and all that stuff. Yes, we (Civil Aviation Ministry) are standing in the queue. We are raising the issue with the end-user ministries (about funds)," he said.
"Let us be very blunt and honest here. It is not going to happen overnight. I am a shameless guy, so I will keep trying. But the money may come a little later. It is not going to happen tomorrow or the next month," he added.
The Civil Aviation Ministry started the registration process for non-compliant drones which were not registered with the aviation regulator DGCA and have not been granted drone acknowledgement numbers (DANs) from June 8.
The ministry said a similar one-time opportunity for voluntary disclosure of such drones was provided between January 14 and January 31. A total of 19,553 non-compliant drones were registered during this period, it said.
On June 5, the ministry had issued draft rules for manufacturing and use of drones in the country wherein it has proposed that an authorised drone manufacturer or importer can sell its devices only to an individual or entity approved by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
It will issue the final rules once it deliberates on comments received from all the stakeholders on draft rules.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)