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Govt to use drones to deliver medicines, trial underway in Chamba

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Govt to use drones to deliver medicines, trial underway in Chamba

A drone being readied for take off at Chowgan in Chamba district on Wednesday.



Tribune News Service

Shimla, February 17

The state Department of Information Technology has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Skye Air for the extensive use of drones to deliver medicines and agricultural commodities. As part of the strategic partnership, drone delivery tech firm Skye Air started a three-day trial in Chamba district yesterday to connect six primary and community health centres with hospitals in the area via multiple flights covering an aerial distance of 170 km.

The drone delivery tech firm is using its most reliable UAV ‘Skye Ship One’ to facilitate real-time deliveries of vaccines and medicines within a specified temperature range of 2°C to 8°C. There will be several reverse logistic flights, which shall also be done to help the adoption of the drone technology to enable cost-effective deliveries within the state.

The flights, equipped with consignments of medical supplies, flew beyond at an altitude of 400 feet above the ground level in a designated green zone of Chamba district. The flights took place at three air corridors – Chaned, Tissa and Mehla — demonstrating the effectiveness of drones in steep mountain ranges and air-pockets.

“The use of drones can be a critical intervention in improving the ease of access to services in mountainous and remote regions of Himachal Pradesh. The demonstration in Chamba will help in ascertaining the advantages of drone use in medicine delivery and benefits of drone-enabled governance,” said Mukesh Repaswal, Director, Department of Information Technology. He added that the Information Technology Department was keen to expand the drone-based delivery ecosystem in the state for various purposes.

“We are elated at our new partnership with the Himachal Government and we look forward to bringing better health care accessibility within the remotest parts of the state. As a beginning, we shall be conducting around 25 flights during the trial phase, taking up hard weather and terrain challenges,” said Swapnik Jakkampundi, co-founder of Skye Air.

He said that in the coming months, the services would directly benefit over 5.19 lakh people through better health care accessibility, besides creating local employment in the drone delivery ecosystem.

Deputy Commissioner DC Rana, ADM, Chamba, Amit Mehra and SDM, Chamba, Naveen Tanwar witnessed the first drone delivery flight taking off. “Today was a remarkable day as Chamba district took the lead in deploying the new age drone delivery technology to enable better health care accessibility to people in far-flung areas. Drones can go aerial up to 100 km to deliver medicines and in disaster relief activities for package deliveries as well,” said Rana.

Will be useful in time of disaster, says DC

Medicines, test kits and other items were successfully transported through a drone from Chowgan to the Chaned primary health centre in Chamba district in about 13 minutes on the first day of the three-day trial on Wednesday. The use of drones will save time and make health services accessible to patients in remote areas. Even in the time of a disaster, drones can be used to carry essential items. — DC Rana, Deputy Commissioner, Chamba

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