New Delhi: The Civil Aviation Ministry on Thursday permitted the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to conduct a feasibility study on using drones to deliver COVID-19 vaccine, according to an official statement.

The ICMR will conduct this study in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, the ministry’s press release said.

The ministry said it has granted “conditional exemption” from the “Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2021” so that it can conduct a feasibility study on using drones to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine. This exemption will be valid for a period of one year or until further orders, it noted. 

Three days back, the Centre had announced that vaccination against COVID-19 for those above 18 years will begin across the country from May 1 as part of the third phase of the inoculation drive.

Registration for vaccination against COVID-19 for all those aged above 18 will begin on the CoWIN platform and Aarogya Setu app from April 28, officials said on Thursday.

Also read: Using Drones to Fight COVID-19?

India on Thursday registered over 3.14 lakh new coronavirus cases in a day, the highest-ever single-day count recorded in any country, taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases in the country to 1,59,30,965.

According to the Union Health Ministry’s data updated on Thursday, a total of 3,14,835 fresh infections were registered in a span of 24 hours, while the death toll increased to 1,84,657 with a record 2,104 new fatalities.

The Civil Aviation Ministry said on Thursday it has also granted conditional permission to “Nagar Nigam” (city municipalities) of four cities – Dehradun, Haldwani, Haridwar and Rudrapur – to use drones for creating property database and electronic tax register.

Similar permission has been granted to West Central Railway based in Kota and Katni to use drones for mapping “train accident site” and “maintaining safety and security of the railway assets”. 

In addition to these, Vedanta Ltd had on April 8 received conditional permission to use drones for “asset inspection and mapping”.

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