Shimla, December 3
The Health Department is planning over 1,000 drone sorties this month in Shimla, Chamba, Sirmaur and Kullu districts to collect data for better understanding and usage of the service.
“The sorties started at Janjheli in Mandi district last month. We will soon start sorties in four more districts to collect enough data to analyse and understand the pros and cons of the service and then make our strategies accordingly,” said Hemraj Bairwa, managing director of the National Health Mission (NHM).
The Health Department has completed the initial trials of drone service. “The initial trials were successful. We believe it will be a good addition to health services in remote and tough areas of the state. Now, we are just trying to figure out how best it could be used at different places, as per our requirements,” said Bairwa.
The drones would be used to send medicines, vaccine and medical consumables to health facilities located in remote and tough areas, where it takes a lot of time to reach by road. “Besides, these health facilities can send back stuff like medical samples in drones for testing at bigger health centres,” he said. In the trials, the drones had successfully carried payload of 5 kg to 10 kg.
Besides, using drones in the medical field, the government is exploring the possibility of using them for keeping tabs on illegal tree felling and mining and agriculture as well. Sometime ago, a drone was successfully used at Nichar village in Kinnaur district to transport an apple box from a high altitude orchard to the nearest road. However, the question of commercial viability of drone use for transporting apple needs to be addressed.
In agriculture, drones can be used for monitoring crops and soil health, and spraying pesticides and fertiliser. It has been learnt that in Balh and Sundernagar areas of Mandi district, Agriculture Department officials had recently used a drone on a trial basis for spraying fertiliser on paddy.