In a significant move towards empowering women in rural India, the Union Cabinet has greenlit a central scheme Empowering SHGs Through Drone Technology Cabinet Approves Rs 1,261 Cr Scheme. This initiative aims to provide drones to 15,000 progressive Women Self-Help Groups (SHGs) over a two-year period starting from 2024-25.
Financial Support for Drone Procurement
Under the scheme, women SHGs will receive central financial assistance amounting to 80% of the drone’s cost, including accessories and ancillary charges, capped at Rs 8,00,000. This financial support is a crucial step in facilitating the purchase of drones, which are estimated to cost around Rs 10 lakh.
Key Components of the Scheme
Subsidy and Honorarium
Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur revealed that the Centre will subsidize 80% of the drone cost or up to Rs 8 lakh. Additionally, drone pilots will receive an honorarium of Rs 15,000, and co-pilots will be entitled to Rs 10,000.
Identification and Training
Women SHGs will be selected from the 89 lakh SHGs formed under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana. The Cluster Level Federation (CLFs) of SHGs may secure the remaining funds as a loan under the National Agriculture Infra Financing Facility (AIF), with a 3% interest subvention.
Implementation and Operation
The scheme envisions the formation of clusters comprising 10-15 villages, providing approximately 1,000 hectares of land for drone operations. Priority will be given to commercial crops, ensuring optimal utilization of drone services.
According to an official statement, a 15-day training program will be initiated for qualified SHG members, focusing on five-day mandatory drone pilot training and an additional 10-day training for agricultural purposes like nutrient and pesticide application.
Bridging the Gap: Lead Fertiliser Companies
Considering potential challenges in drone procurement, repair, and maintenance, lead fertiliser companies (LFCs) will act as intermediaries between drone supplier companies and SHGs. LFCs will also promote the use of nano-fertilisers by drones among SHGs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: How will the financial assistance be provided to women SHGs for drone procurement?
A1: Women SHGs will receive 80% of the drone cost and accessories/ancillary charges as central financial assistance, up to Rs 8,00,000.
Q2: What is the duration of the scheme?
A2: The scheme is set to run for two years, starting from the financial year 2024-25.
Q3: How will the training programs be structured?
A3: The training programs will consist of a five-day mandatory drone pilot training and an additional 10-day training for agricultural purposes.
This visionary scheme not only addresses the economic empowerment of women through drone technology but also signifies a transformative step towards leveraging science and technology for rural development. As Prime Minister Modi announced the initiative during his Independence Day speech, the scheme aligns with the broader vision of harnessing the potential of science and technology to drive positive change in rural India.