Bengaluru, Feb 3: The government is considering allowing air traffic controllers, operated by private entities, to manage drone operations in the Indian airspace below 1,000 feet, said a senior Civil Aviation Ministry official on Wednesday.

"The drone ATC (air traffic controller) will be called UTM (unmanned traffic management) and it will collaborate with the manned traffic management, which is being handled currently as a sovereign function by the Airports Authority of India (AAI)," said Amber Dubey, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The AAI, which works under the ministry, manages all manned aircraft operations in the Indian airspace. A passenger aircraft generally flies at a height of around 30,000 feet.

"The airspace below 1,000 feet is lower airspace and it would be the main playground of drones. For that, we may have a system of private ATCs, which would be managed by private operators," Dubey said at a session organised by industry body FICCI at Aero India 2021.

"It could be a government agency or a private agency, it is something that would evolve," he added.

The AAI cannot handle drones because they would be flying at 5 feet to take care of crops to about 1,000 feet in the airspace, Dubey mentioned.

Drone technology is moving way faster than the regulations so we have decided that we need to start a parallel activity, he said.

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Madikeri: The Kodagu district administration has implemented a nighttime ban on vehicular movement along the NH 275 section of Sampaje Ghat, connecting Sampaje to Madikeri, amid fears of potential landslides. The restriction, effective from Thursday, prohibits travel between 8 PM and 6 AM.

This precautionary measure was enacted following a report from the Assistant Executive Engineer of the National Highways Authority of India, Madikeri Sub-Division, highlighting the risk of the hillside near Kartoji on the highway collapsing due to persistent heavy rain. As a result, the Kodagu Deputy Commissioner Venkat Raja issued the order to restrict traffic.

The movement restriction applies to all vehicles except those used by officers and personnel involved in emergency services and natural calamity-related tasks.

ALSO READ: Heavy rains lead to closure of Shirady Ghat section for vehicular movement on NH-75

The Sampaje Ghat section is a vital route for travelers heading to Madikeri, Mysuru, Bengaluru, and Ooty, and it also serves as an alternative path when the Shirady Ghat is closed due to landslides. With the recent landslide near Maranahalli, traffic on the Shirady Ghat section is also banned, adding to the urgency of the situation.

Deputy Commissioner Venkat Raja has advised travelers heading to Mysuru and Bengaluru via Madikeri to use the Charmadi Ghat-Kottigehara route as an alternative.

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