Pesticides spraying using drones is illegal in India, says Centre

Responding to activist’s petition on the increasing use of aerial spraying and consequent damage to the environment, the central government has recently decided to make the pesticides spraying through drones as ‘illegal’.

Moreover, the Union Government has clarified that drone-spraying is illegal. “As per the provisions of Insecticides Act 1968, aerial application of pesticides needs approval/ permission from the Central Insecticides Board (CIB). Further, no permission/ approval has been granted by the CIB in the past for the use of drones to spray pesticides,” said a communication on December 30, 2019, from the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare.

Recently, the Union Government clarified to Donthi Narasimha Reddy, a passionate campaigner of environmental and development issues, in communication over the issue. It is also the case with pesticide spraying on crops for pest-killing, considering the collateral damage.

As per reports, Mr. Reddy, in a letter to Rajesh Verma, Additional Secretary (PP), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, in November 2019, highlighted that usage of drones in for agrochemical spraying has increased and would create a lot of problems.

“As you are aware, aerial spraying impacts a larger area, while decreasing the efficacy on the target pests. We have seen Kasargod in Kerala reeling under such an impact due to the aerial spraying of Endosulfan for over 25 years. We are also aware that farmers and sprayers ignore and/or cannot follow safety precautions under adverse weather and wind conditions. The drift of spraying can take the fine hazardous chemical beyond the range of application,” said Mr. Reddy.

“The Insecticide Act does not allow aerial spraying. Drones and unmanned machines can be hazardous tools for spraying hazardous chemicals in many ways. Allowing aerial spraying, using drones and unmanned, remote-controlled vehicles can be catastrophic,” added Mr. Reddy.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at

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