Maharashtra: Sky Is The Limit For State’s First Batch Of Female Drone Pilot

Maharashtra: Sky Is The Limit For State’s First Batch Of Female Drone Pilot

In a novel initiative, the Thane Zilla Parishad has successfully got a batch of women drone pilots trained and certified to fly drones.

Dhairya GajaraUpdated: Friday, May 03, 2024, 01:11 AM IST
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For the first time, 12 women from various self-help groups in rural Maharashtra have been trained to operate and fly drones. Taught in Bangalore, they will soon use their new skills to earn employment by area mapping, aerial surveys and agricultural spraying.

The initiative, conceptualised and launched by the Thane zilla parishad eight months ago, is aimed at training female drone pilots who can facilitate works in various fields, including agriculture and infrastructure.

The training was budgeted by the zilla parishad in collaboration with Defy Aerospace, a Mumbai-based startup, which trained the women at its centre in Bangalore.

Deepa Deshmukh, a resident of Mharal village in Kalyan, is a member of the state government’s Umed Abhiyan. “The zilla parishad invited us to apply for the training programme but we were sceptical since we had never travelled alone so far,” she said.

“My family and my husband supported me to join this course and now I am hopeful that I will be able to earn with my newly inherited skill. I can use my flying skills to spray pesticides on our village farms,” she told The Free Press Journal.

In Bangalore, the women went through three levels of training: Theory, simulator training and lab session. The women, all from rural areas of Thane, passed the theoretical test and with four hours of flying experience, have received their licence from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

Samriddhi Pandey, founder of Defy Aerospace, said the women were not fluent in English, but still managed to pass the theoretical test in that language.

“Now that they are licensed, they are eligible for the state government’s ‘Drone Didi’ scheme, where they will get 80% subsidy on agriculture drones and loan for the rest of the amount. They can purchase their drone and provide different services or else rent out their drone and earn through it,” she said.

Drone flying skills have opened a new path of employment for these women. With only a handful of them with such a skill, they can carry out property surveys, aerial spraying, and mapping. Manuj Jindal, joint managing director of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation, had planned the initiative during his tenure as the chief executive officer of the zIlla parishad and now plans to integrate these women pilots with MSRDC for highway monitoring.

“There is no such policy to train women to become certified drone pilots but we still managed to do it. This was just the beginning and more such women from rural areas should get trained as the necessity for aerial surveillance is increasing and there is a shortage of drone pilots in these areas. We will try to connect these women with different agencies, where they can earn with the help of their skills,” Jindal said.

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