You are reading it here first: The Survey of India has floated two tenders to procure 260 professional grade drones for a four-year central government project to digitally map all Indian villages. The centre chose the Survey of India to carry out this project under the Svamitva scheme, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April. It received regulatory approvals from the civil aviation regulator last month.

The government’s claim about the Svamitva scheme is that “digitally mapping” villages will help in providing title deeds to residential properties owners in rural areas. Further, the government claims that it will help bring those properties under taxation and help holders of land title deeds avail loans. Over 6 lakh villages are to be digitally mapped over four years, an average of 1.6 lakh villages will have to be mapped every year. The pilot phase, to be held over the next 6 months, aims to cover 100,000 villages in Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

The Department of Science & Technology, under which the Survey of India falls, has also floated another tender to hire professional drone services for the project (more on that below).

Drones to have high-res camera, preference to Indian companies

Of the two tenders published by the organisation, one looks to procure 200 drones, and the second, another 60 drones. Both of these tenders were published by Survey of India’s Madhya Pradesh Geo-Spatial Data Centre (MPGDC).

The technical requirements of the drones to be procured are the same in both the tenders — they should all be equipped with a high resolution RGB camera with a minimum resolution of 15 megapixel or more, have a minimum 64 GB of onboard storage, RFID or a SIM card slot for real-time tracking, and 128 bit encryption to protect the data, among other things. All of these 260 drones should also be equipped with a navigation software package that enables planning and performing “complex flight patterns for different surveying applications and should allow the combination of telemetry data with the recorded images/data”.

Read: Targeted procurement, outsourcing, AI/ML: How Survey of India is planning digital mapping of villages using drones

Both the tenders place significantly lower eligibility criteria for small Indian companies, especially for MSMEs, and startups recognised by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).

In case of the bigger tender (200 drones):

  • Eligible bidders should have supplied at least 50 drones during the last three years. If it is a company that is either recognised by the DPIIT as a startup, or is registered as an MSME, then it should have supplied at least 20 such drones, in the same time; OR
  • Authorised Indian distributors of a foreign company should have supplied at least 80 drones during the last three years; OR
  • In case of “Local Bidders” for the “purpose of ongoing Make in India preference”, they should have valid ‘Make in India’ agreement/ program.

The average annual financial turnover of bidding companies should be at least Rs 5 crore during the last three years, ending on March 31, 2020. For manufacturers recognised as startups by DPIIT, the average annual financial turnover should be at least 50 lakhs or more during the last three financial years.

In case of the smaller tender (60 drones): 

  • Bidding companies should have successfully supplied, installed and commissioned at least 25% of the quantity specified in the bid with all subcomponents and necessary hardware and software in any one of the last three financial years. These companies should have a minimum annual turnover of Rs 5 crore over the last three years.
  • However, if a bidder is registered as an MSME/NSIC (National Small Industries Corporation), or is a startup recognised by the DPIIT, it should have  successfully supplied, installed and commissioned at least 8% of the specified quantity in the last three years. These companies should have a minimum annual turnover of Rs 50 lakh on the last three years.

Survey of India also hiring 5 drone service teams to map Uttarakhand

The organisation has also floated a tender to hire five professional survey grade drone services team for mapping in Uttarakhand for one year. Each Drone services team will include one survey grade drone, a trained drone pilot, and insurance coverage among other things.

Eligible bidders: Bidders should have 1-2 years experience in carrying out professional survey grade RPAS/Drone based large scale mapping projects. For startups recognised by DPIIT, this condition doesn’t apply.

All drones and related services to be supplied under this contract will need to have their “origin in India or any other country with which India has not banned trade relations”. The term “origin” here means the place where goods are “mined, grown, produced, or manufactured or from where the related services are arranged and supplied”.

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