Jaipur: Centre’s Locust Warning Organization will press into service 25 drones and buy 60 more vehicle-mounted insecticide spraying machines to counter the attack of locust swarms in the near future, an official said on Tuesday.
Millions of locusts may enter India
Authorities are worried that millions of locusts may enter India along with monsoon winds from the Arabian Sea to destroy kharif crops.
“The locust swarms may attack in late June and early July. There is every possibility that locust swarms will come towards India from African countries along with monsoon winds rising from the Arabian Sea,” K L Gurjar, Deputy Director of the Faridabad-based Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), told PTI.
He said the summer and rainy weather is favourable for locusts and they move from one place to another during this time, travelling 150 km in a day.
India faced locust attack last month
India faced a locust attack last month and the swarms reached Jaipur for the first time. Swarms of locusts travelled through several areas of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh amid their worst invasion in years.
The swarms entered Rajasthan in April from Pakistan and then spread to areas across the western states, helped by strong winds.
Gurjar said the LWO is making full preparations at its level. For the first time, a team of 25 drones is being prepared to fight the locust swarm, which will be ready in a day or two. It will be used for spraying insecticides. Apart from this, the organization will get 60 more vehicle-mounted sprayers by the end of this month.
State Agriculture Commissioner Dr Omprakash told PTI that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is predicting that grasshoppers will come so “we have made full preparations”.
Around 800 tractor-mounted sprayers were already being used, and now the district collectors have been authorized to take into service more such vehicles as per the requirement.
No dearth of resources to counter attack
He said there is no dearth of resources to counter attack locust swarms. The state government has already given about Rs 6.5 crore to the districts. The department has asked for around Rs 4 crore additionally.
The government has decided to purchase 100 fire fighting vehicles from the Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF), which can also be used for locust control.
In a meeting with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot recently, State Agriculture Minister Lalchand Kataria said a large number of locust swarms could come to Rajasthan in the coming days. He said swarms are breeding in African countries.
A large number of these swarms are expected to reach Rajasthan. In such a situation, a district-wise strategy will have to be made to deal with them, Kataria said.