Government has intensified Locust control operations in seven states. These are Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Maharashtra. In total 60 ground control teams of Locust Circle Offices and 12 Drones are being used for Locust Control operations. The Locust Warning Organization and 10 Locust Circle Offices in coordination with State governments undertake locust control operations in schedule desert areas of Rajasthan and Gujarat. The State Governments through their Agriculture Departments undertake locust control in cropped area. This year starting from 11th April, in this season 1,27,225 hectares have been controlled till 26th of this month.
One swarm of 2 km x 4 km size which was previously controlled in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan on 26th June moved to Rewari district in Haryana. This swarm in Rewari was controlled by the State Agriculture Department deploying 40 tractors and 4 fire brigade vehicles. Two Ground control teams and officers of Locust Circle office were also present and joined them. Control operations were carried out from midnight to early morning yesterday. The left over swarm initially moved towards Jhajjar district in the morning and thereafter turned towards east following the wind direction. This swarm split into 3 to 4 smaller swarms.
One moved towards Nuh in Haryana and two swarms moved over Gurugram, moving further towards U.P. Two teams deployed in Haryana are following these swarms. Five more ground control teams have been moved from Nagaur and Jaipur in Rajasthan to join the operations in U.P. Drones have also been moved from Jaisalmer to join operations. State Agriculture Departments of Haryana and U.P. have been continuously kept informed and they are making necessary arrangements for control wherever the swarm finally settles.
Yesterday morning, apart from control operations at Rewari, locust controls have been undertaken by ground control teams of Locust Circle offices in coordination with agriculture department officials of State Government in Jaisalmer, Barmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Nagaur, Jaipur and Sikar. The control operations have also been undertaken at one location in UP. Agriculture Ministry has said that India is the first country to control locust by using drones after finalizing the protocols and getting all statutory approvals. Major operations are concentrated in Rajasthan where maximum resources are committed. State governments have deployed tractor mounted sprayers and fire tender vehicles in large numbers to undertake locust control in cropped area. Ten ground spray equipments were imported from UK to strengthen locust control capabilities in the country.
Additional 45 ground spray equipments will reach next month and Locust Circle Offices have more than 100 ground control equipment by July. Presently 60 control teams and more than 200 Central Government personnel are engaged in locust control operations.For effective control of locusts on tall trees and in inaccessible areas, 5 companies with 12 drones are deployed for spraying of pesticides for locust control. 55 additional vehicles have been purchased to strengthen the control capabilities. Enough stock of pesticides is being maintained with the locust control organization and there is sufficient availability with State Governments also. Home Ministry has included admissibility of hiring of vehicles and tractors with spray equipments for spraying of plant protection chemicals for pest control.
Under Sub-Mission on Agriculture Mechanization, assistance for purchase of 800 tractors mounted spray equipments sanctioned for Rajasthan. Financial assistance of 14 Crore rupees sanctioned for the State for hiring of vehicles, tractors and for purchase of pesticides is under sanction. A total of 1.80 crore rupees sanctioned for Gujarat for purchase of vehicles, spray equipments, safety uniform, android application and training with regard to locust. Review meetings were organized at different levels, Video Conferences were organized for different State Governments and Locust control preparedness is being reviewed.
Local awareness literature, SOP of approved pesticides and awareness videos were also shared with all stakeholder States. The Ministry said no significant crop losses have been reported in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Haryana. However, some minor crop losses have been reported in some districts of Rajasthan.