Unidentified drone reportedly traced to private survey firm

Security on high alert after spotting drone near TVPM airport, VSSC

Thiruvananthapuram: The unidentified drone spotted over Kovalam beach a couple of days ago is reportedly traced to a Mumbai based IT solution firm which is engaged in conducting survey works for the Railways.

According to the police, the drone belonging to Intron Solutions, a Mumbai based firm engaged in the survey work for Railways had flown towards Kovalam as the company staff who were operating it from a car lost control of the equipment. The drone has a range of 3 kilometres radius. The company officials are reportedly summoned by the police for further enquiry.

The unidentified unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), popularly known as drone, was spotted over Kovalam beach by the police personnel engaged in night patroling duty by around 1 a.m. Later, more reports of sighting the drone came from people in Kovalam, Kochuveli and Shanghumugham areas. The Police and Special Branch started investigations as the security officers on duty at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) also confirmed the sighting of the drone. The link with the Mumbai based firm was revealed following the probe centered on private companies.

At the same time, the special investigation team of Police led by the City Police Commissioner has started enquiry into the incident when a drone was spotted over the Police Headquarters at Thiruvananthapuram yesterday. The drone was spotted flying over the Police Headquarters by around 10.30 p.m. by the police personnel who were on security duty, but no information could be obtained on the drone even after extensive enquiry. Following this, the police also got information that a drone was spotted over Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple, a high security area. However, the information has not yet been confirmed.

Those who are using UAVs, or drones, need to get the equipment registered following the guidelines issued by the Directorate of Civil Aviation, according to the police. The operation of all UAVs have been brought under strict Government regulations since December, 2018. According to these regulations, the UAVs have been divided into five categories based on weight, ranging from nano drones of 250 grams to heavy drones weighing 150 kilograms. The nano drones weighing below 250 grammes do not require registration, but they should not fly over a height of 50 feet. The drones used by security forces do not need permission.

Otherwise, all drones weighing more than the nano drones need the permit and individual identity number issued by the Directorate of Civil Aviation. Even the UAVs with permits should not be flown beyond a height of 400 feet. The UAVs are not allowed to be operated over Parliament, Secretariat, Rashtrapathi Bhavan, premises of air ports, head quarters of armed forces, State secretariat and other institutions of security forces. Drones are also not allowed within a 50 kilo meter radius over international borders as well as beyond 500 meters from the coast, according to the police.

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