About 4,000 acres of land identified for the project
Survey work to be completed in three months
Chitradurga: Preliminary works for the establishment of India’s first flight test range for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is on the fast track in Chitradurga.
The Rs. 850-crore project, which comes under the Defence Ministry, is aimed at strengthening the Army, Navy and the Air Force.
Chitradurga was selected for the prestigious project by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Bangalore. The district administration has identified some 4,000 acres of land at Voru Kaval area of Challakere taluk for it.
The DRDO has obtained clearances from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for the project. The sources said that the centre would produce and test small UAV, micro-UAV, flapping wing UAV and the long range UAV.
Though the research and development of individual components for the vehicle will take place in Defence laboratories, including Bangalore’s Aeronautical Development Establishment, as well as centres in Pune and Dehradun, the final assembling and testing is expected to be done in Chitradurga.
The project was earlier proposed to be set up at the Defence air strip at Kolar, but owing to technical reasons, the project was shifted to Chitradurga as the DRDO found the area not only comes under no-flying-zone but is also close to Bangalore.
Deputy Commissioner Amlan Aditya Biswas said DRDO officials had visited the spot and approved the site, after which the district administration started survey work and fixing of land price according to government rates.
Earlier, the district administration had identified a private land at Hiriyur and Challakere taluks, but since it faced some problems in acquiring it, the project was shifted to government land at Challakere, Mr. Biswas said.
He said that within three-four weeks, the survey work would be completed besides submitting the land cost. “We are expecting to hand over the land within three months,”, he said and added that the approximate cost of the land would be about Rs. 25 crore.
Ramesh Baliga, scientist at DRDO and in-charge of the project, told The Hindu that the DRDO would immediately commence the establishment work soon after the taking over of land. He said that the project would be completed in five years.