Crop dusting using drones is illegal, says Centre

Aerial spraying of pesticides on a field in Khammam district of Telangana.

Aerial spraying of pesticides on a field in Khammam district of Telangana.   | Photo Credit: G. N. Rao

Responds to activist’s petition on increasing use of aerial spraying and consequent damage to environment

Technology, it is said, is a double-edged sword. It is also the case with pesticide spraying on crops for pest-killing, considering the collateral damage.

Recently, the Union Government clarified to one Donthi Narasimha Reddy in a communication over the issue.

Mr. Reddy, a passionate campaigner of environmental and development issues, in a letter to Rajesh Verma, Additional Secretary (PP), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, in November 2019, highlighted that usage of drones in for agro-chemical spraying has increased and would create lot of problems.

“As you are aware, aerial spraying impacts a larger area, while decreasing the efficacy on the target pests. We have seen Kasargod in Kerala reeling under such impact due to aerial spraying of Endosulfan for over 25 years. We are also aware that farmers and sprayers ignore and/or cannot follow safety precautions under adverse weather and wind conditions. Drift of spraying can take the fine hazardous chemical beyond the range of application,” said Mr. Reddy.

“The Insecticide Act does not allow aerial spraying. Drones and unmanned machines can be hazardous tools for spraying hazardous chemicals in many ways. Allowing aerial spraying, using drones and unmanned, remote controlled vehicles can be catastrophic,” he added in his appeal.

There is no scientific validity that drones help in precision spraying, he wrote. “Drone manufacturers, suppliers and the entire network have to be cautioned against using drones for aerial spraying of agro-chemicals. We request you to issue an advisory to all concerned regulatory authorities against allowing drone usage for agrochemical spraying,” he urged.

In response, the Union Government has clarified that drone-spraying is illegal. “As per the provisions of Insecticides Act 1968, aerial application of pesticides need approval/ permission from the Central Insecticides Board (CIB). Further, no permission/ approval has been granted by the CIB in the past for the use of drones to spray pesticides,” said a communication on December 30, 2019, from the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 9:22:17 PM |

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