Combating Coronavirus Pandemic: Varanasi Civic Administration Uses Drones To Sanitise City

Combating Coronavirus Pandemic: Varanasi Civic Administration Uses Drones To Sanitise CityDrones in Varanasi (Asian News Service/Twitter)
  • Chennai-based Garuda Aerospace Private Limited has been tasked with spraying of sanitizer in selected areas of Varanasi City, the Prime Minister’s constituency, under Smart Cities Mission.

Taking the help of technology in its fight against novel coronavirus, the civic and city administration of Varanasi have pressed drone services into action to santise the city including its congested and narrow lanes amid the lockdown.

Equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) and Global System for Mobile (GSM) Communication based wireless cameras, the vehicles used for drone operations carry out the entire spraying operations which are centrally monitored from the Kashi Integrated Command and Control Centre, now converted into a COVID-19 War Room.

The district administration has engaged Garuda Aerospace Private Limited, a Chennai- based company for spraying of sanitiser in selected areas of Varanasi City, the Prime Minister's constituency, under Smart Cities Mission.

In view of the limited options for transportation during the lockdown period, these drones were specially airlifted from Chennai through Air-India cargo flights, with special permission from the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

A seven-member team with two drones was made operational and trial runs were completed on 17 April 2020, according to the ministry official.

Spraying of sanitizer through drones has been made a priority for hotspots and containment areas identified by the district administration/Chief Medical Officer.

This is followed by isolation areas, quarantined areas, shelter homes and other places where manual spraying is difficult.

The areas where drones are to be deployed is decided by a team of Varanasi Nagar Nigam officials.

The drone team first visits the area planned to be sanitized for the day and makes a quick visual survey of the terrain, buildings and surroundings and chalks out a flight path to be followed by the drone.

The drone is then filled with the chemical solution consisting of 1 per cent Sodium Hypochlorite, [NaOCl], and subsequently calibrated and set ready to fly.

Drones are then flown using a remote-control device by the experienced drone pilots in the planned flight path, simultaneously spraying the sanitizer through its four nozzles.

After every flight (lasting approximately 15 to 20 minutes), the drones are called back for refilling the chemical and replacing the battery pack.

The drones are then moved to the next location to resume flying/spraying.

The flight path of the drones and the area covered are controlled and recorded in a hand-held device with Geographic Information System (GIS) maps on the backend, which is plugged to the remote controller.

The sanitary inspector and other team members’ report to the nodal officer before and after drone operations are carried out at each designated location.

The capital costs of the equipment are provided by the agency concerned, and the city administration had to incur expenditure on operational expenses (service costs and chemical costs).

The average cost of operations range from Rs 8,000 to Rs 12,000 per day per drone and is dependent on area covered in acres.

Drones are unmanned vehicles which can fly the way helicopters do and can be operated by trained personnel using specially designed remote control.

Drones which were specially designed for spraying pesticides for agricultural use are now being used for spraying disinfectant fluid around quarantined areas and isolation wards during COVID-19 pandemic situation.


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