An engineering college dropout, who teamed up with friends to design and make unmanned aerial vehicles, has volunteered his services to monitor Ganesh immersions to help authorities to better handle the crowds.
Rajesh Mane is especially focusing on Girgaum Chowpatty, where most immersions happen, and particularly at Lalbaughcha Raja and Ganesh Galli mandals that draw the biggest number of devotees.
“We operated the drones during immersion at Girgaum and Dadar on Tuesday, the first day of immersion, and we were able to get good images with high-definition cameras atop the remote-controlled drone,” said Mane.
Last month, the group conducted aerial photography of dahi-handi celebration, in Bandra (East). They undertook a bigger operation, working with volunteers engaged in relief work in Uttarakhand, helping find survivors and plan operations. Now, Mane says they can help with security and crowd management.
Mane, 22, who lives in Vikhroli, quit studies in the third year at VJTI.
It wasn’t long before Mane had this big idea and got together with two friends to make drones. They pooled in a couple of lakhs of rupees and helped by an uncle who gave them space for an office in Belapur, completed the first air vehicle in July last year.
Their start-up, named Airpix, now has three such unmanned aerial vehicles that are better known as quadcopters. Airpix provides services to real estate firms, which find the cost very affordable as compared to that for hiring a helicopter for videography.
Drones are commonly used in the West for aerial photography and videography, but in India they have mostly been used by the military. Shaped like a toy plane, the four-winged vehicle is about 60cm across and can operate up to a distance of 1km controlled with a hand-held remote.
Shinil Shekhar, partner in Airpix, said that they had discussed their initiative for the immersion with Sudhir Salvi, secretary of the Lalbaughcha Raja mandal, and that Salvi had permitted them to undertake the plan. Salvi, however, said he had not given any permission for this proposal.
Swapnil Parab, spokesperson for the Ganesh Gali mandal, said they have no objection to the proposal and that the initiative is entirely Airpix’s responsibility.