NEW DELHI: The government has approved the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for drones and drone components for implementation during the current year (2022-23) till 2024-25 with an outlay of Rs 120 crore. Based on the consultations/meetings with the stakeholders, including the industry representatives and the concerned departments, the operational guidelines of the PLI scheme for drones and drone components have been finalised. A statement from the ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) said that the objective behind this scheme is to incentivise the manufacturing of drones so as to make them self-sustaining and globally competitive. The statement said in order to make the country a global hub for the research and development, testing, manufacturing and operation of drones under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, the liberalised Drone Rules, 2021, was released to create a growth-oriented regulatory framework for drones. To facilitate further growth, the government said it approved the PLI scheme for drones and drone components in India. Some of the operational guidelines which were notified for the stakeholders and the public were based on the definitions of the companies; eligibility; application and online portal; project management agency (PMA), empowered group of secretaries (EGoS) and the Competent Authority; approval under PLI and determination of baseline and calculation and disbursement of incentives. These applicants for the scheme are the companies registered in India that are manufacturing — drones and drone components. The manufacturing can be carried out at one or more locations in India. According to the statement, the target segment covers drones and drone components. Drone components include airframe, propulsion systems (engine and electric), power systems, batteries and associated components, launch and recovery systems, communication systems, cameras, sensors, detect-and-avoid system, and software for drone and drone components, among others. In terms of applications, the statement said it should be with supporting documents and an application fee. Application acknowledgement date is the date on which it is acknowledged by the ministry after carrying out initial scrutiny. The application approval date is the date on which, based on an application, approval under the scheme is issued by the PMA. According to the guidelines, the scheme will be implemented through a nodal agency. Such nodal agency shall act as a PMA and will be responsible for providing secretarial, managerial and implementation support and carrying out responsibilities as assigned by the ministry from time to time. The PMA would be responsible for the appraisal of applications and verification of eligibility, examination of claims, a compilation of data, regarding the progress and performance of the scheme and to keep a check on any diversions arising out of any change in accounting policy or duplication of benefits on account of the same activity under different PLI schemes. The scheme shall have a provision for audit by an external auditor (chartered accountant or cost accountant). The EGoS will conduct periodic reviews of eligible companies with respect to their investments, employment generation, production and value addition under the scheme. It may revise incentivise rates, ceilings, and eligibility criteria as deemed appropriate during the scheme’s tenure. The statement from the ministry said claim for disbursement of incentive shall be filed on an annual basis by the applicant within 12 months from the end of the financial year for the claims pertaining to FY22 (2021-22) and within six months from the end of the financial year to which the claim pertains for remaining tenure of the scheme. Applicants will be required to submit claims for disbursement of incentives to the PMA for claiming incentives under the scheme. Applicants must ensure that the claims are complete in all respects and accompanied by all the documents required as per the format prescribed. PMA will have to examine the disbursement claims as submitted by an applicant. The statement also said the PMA shall process claims for the disbursement of incentives and make appropriate recommendations to the Competent Authority. It also said the disbursement of incentives may be in the form of Direct Bank Transfer or through any other mechanism of adjustment in the name of the applicant only. In case of excess claims disbursed, the applicant shall reimburse MoCA for any incentive amount refundable along with interest calculated at three years. The PMA will submit budgetary requirements to MoCA as a consolidated amount on a quarterly basis. The statement also said that all approved applicants shall be required to furnish self-certified quarterly review reports within 30 days from the end of each quarter. The ministry also said these guidelines may be amended or modified at any time during the continuance of the scheme. Any dispute arising out of any conditions stipulated in the norms, selection of proposals and issues during the implementation under the scheme will be subject to courts/tribunals having jurisdiction under Delhi.