India's Tamil Nadu state is planning to deploy drones to keep watch on its prisons across the state, local media reported on Monday.
Drones would be used to check on both inmates and guards; the unmanned aerial vehicles would also ensure that neither weapons nor contraband such as drugs are smuggled into the prisons.
The state government has asked its police department to purchase nine drones in the first phase of the plan at an estimated cost of over $3,000 per unit.
There are 13 prisons in Tamil Nadu state – four special women's prisons and nine central jails for men. These prison complexes are huge, ranging from 20 – 100 acres (eight hectares to 40 hectares, approximately), and each houses thousands of prisoners.
According to the media reports, the use of drones for surveillance will help state-level authorities offset for a “shortage of manpower”.
The commercial use of drones has increased exponentially in India and the federal Civil Aviation Ministry has mandated the licensing of these machines and their owners.
Between 2014-2015, drones were assigned the task of monitoring the forest areas.
Earlier in February, media reports indicated that some of India’s energy distribution firms were planning to use drones with high definition cameras to improve the efficiency of power grids.
In a bid to tackle illegal construction around tourist hotspots, the Kashmir administration is also set to execute a 30-day long drones-based aerial survey of the region.