Officials in one of India's fastest growing cities are employing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to update property records in a pilot project that might be rolled out across the country if rules governing the usage of drones were more straightforward, authorities said.
The drone images are used to upgrade decades-old land records, check encroachments and resolve disputes over land and property.
"While acreage records are meant to be upgraded every five years, this is just not done often, and there are always errors, despite satellite images," said T.L. Satyaprakash, deputy commissioner in Gurgaon.
"That's why we're using drones, as they are far more exact. So we can verify and rectify the property records before they are digitised," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Create possession, upgrade records and India has embarked on a land record modernization plan to survey properties.
Postponements in mapping acreages and authenticating ownership have caused disputes that delay development endeavours, igniting extended court battles. Matters associated with land and property make up about two-thirds of all civil cases in India, based on a legal advocacy group located in Bengaluru, Daksh.
Haryana state officials sourced drones from Technology and Science Park, Pune to take high-resolution pictures every three months of forests and public lands to record borders, illegal constructions and encroachments, Satyaprakash said.
"Drones are more affordable now compared to some years back, as they are being made in India, along with the images are far superior to satellite images," he said.
"This job could be repeated elsewhere quite easily, but the guidelines for drone use are rather stringent, including where they can fly, so their use is restricted."
Check illegal mining and quarrying, and drones are increasingly found in India to curb deforestation.
But rules regulating their use and permissions needed from the defence ministry and also the neighbourhood police differ in every state, to work them, Hooda said.
Drones are barred from flying over certain regions, including the whole air space over Delhi military facilities, and close international boundaries.
"It is a challenge - if it were a little simpler to use drones, we could map more areas instantly. We can do so much more in property-related issues with drones," Hooda said.