TheNFAPost Podcast
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Hyderabad, NFAPost: Protecting national property can sometimes be a cumbersome task for authorities. Any national property, especially on the Indian Railways network, becomes an easy target for anti-social elements to vent their fury, during troublesome times. 

The Railways have formed the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and the Government Railway Police (GRP) to protect its entire system, including the users of the system. However, given the vast and extensive network, surveillance in every nook and corner has become a next to impossible task for law enforcers. 

Taking advantage of the advent of technology, Indian Railways has resorted to drone surveillance to protect its property and to prevent any unauthorized and unsolicited use of its premises and property. Drone surveillance has also proved to be a cost effective tool for security surveillance over large areas with limited manpower. 

Mumbai Division of Central Railway in Indian Railways has recently procured two Ninja UAVs for better security and surveillance in Railway areas like station premises, Railway track sections, yards, workshops, etc.

A team of four staff of Railway Protection Force (RPF), Mumbai has been trained for drone flying, surveillance and maintenance. These drones are capable of Real Time Tracking, Video Streaming and may be operated on Automatic Fail Safe Mode.

Drones – The way forward

Railway Protection Force (RPF) has planned extensive use of drones for the purpose of Railway security. Nine drones have been procured by RPF so far at a cost of Rs. 31.87 Lakhs for surveillance in the boundaries of South Eastern Railway, Central Railway, Modern Coaching Factory, Raebareli and South Western Railway, according to a statement from the Ministry of Railways. 

It is further proposed to procure 17 more drones in future at a cost of Rs. 97.52 Lakhs. Nineteen RPF personnel have so far been trained in operation and maintenance of drones out of which foue have received licenses for flying drones. Six more RPF personnel are being trained.

The purpose of the drone deployment is to provide a force multiplier and aid to the effectiveness of the security personnel deployed. It can help in inspection of Railway assets and safety of Yards, Workshops, car sheds etc. 

It can be used to launch surveillance on criminal and anti-social activities like gambling, throwing of garbage, hawking etc in Railway premises. It may be deployed for data collection Analysis of such data collected may prove to be extremely useful in vulnerable sections for safe operations of trains.

Help during disasters

The drone may be pressed in service at disaster sites for helping in rescue, recovery and restoration and coordinating of efforts of various agencies. It is very useful while undertaking mapping of railway asset to assess the encroachments on railway property. 

During large scale crowd management efforts, it may give vital inputs like crowd magnitude, probable time of arrival and dispersal based on which crowd regulation efforts may be planned and executed. Drones were used to enforce lockdown and monitor the movement of migrants during the COVID-19 lockdown.

A drone camera can cover large area which requires eight to 10 RPF personnel. Thus, it may lead to substantial improvement in utilization of scarce manpower. Drone beats have been designed based on railway asset, sensitivity of area, activity of criminals etc. 

Drones act as an “Eye in the Sky” and monitors the whole area. Any suspicious activity if noticed is intimated to the nearest RPF post of division to apprehend the criminal live.

One such criminal was apprehended on a real-time basis in Wadibunder Yard area while he was trying to commit theft inside railway coach stationed in the yard, a Railway statement said. 

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