As the locust menace continues, the Centre on Tuesday said control measures to stop the spread of the crop-threatening pest have so far been carried out in about 3 lakh hectare area across nine states, including Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
India has been battling with the locust problem since April. The swarms of locusts are largely prevalent in northern states, while the UN body Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned India to be alert this month.
The government is using the latest technology and equipment to kill the swarms and stop its further spread to more places.
In its latest update, the agriculture ministry said swarms of immature pink locusts and adult yellow locusts were active in Barmer, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jhunjhunu, Sriganganagar, Alwar and Churu districts of Rajasthan.
They were also active in Bhiwani and Mahendragarh districts of Haryana, while in Sitapur and Gonda districts of Uttar Pradesh, it said.
The control measures are still continuing and were carried out in 33 places in three states — Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana — in the past two days, it added.
From April 11 to July 12, the ministry said the control measures were taken in about 3 lakh hectare, which includes those in 1.60 lakh hectare across nine states — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana — by locust circle offices (LCOs).
The control operations in the rest of the 1.36 lakh hectare area in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Bihar were carried by state governments, it added.
The control operations are being undertaken by both locust control officers (LCOs) and state agriculture department officials, it said.
In the intervening night of July 12-13, the ministry said the control operations were carried out at 26 places in eight districts (Barmer, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Sriganganagar, Churu, Jhunjhunu and Alwar) of Rajasthan, one place in Gonda district of Uttar Pradesh and at two places in Mahendragarh and Bhiwani districts of Haryana by LCOs.
Besides this, respective state agriculture departments also carried out control operations at two places in the districts of Bhiwani and Mahendragarh in Haryana and two places in the districts of Sitapur and Gonda in Uttar Pradesh.
Currently, the ministry said 60 control teams with spray vehicles have been deployed in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, and more than 200 central government personnel are engaged in locust control operations.
In addition, 20 spray equipment have been received and are deployed for locust control. To strengthen the control capacity, 55 additional vehicles have also been purchased and deployed for locust control.
Further, five companies with 15 drones are deployed at Barmer, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Nagaur and Phalodi in Rajasthan for effective control of locusts on tall trees and in inaccessible areas through spraying of pesticides.
A Bell helicopter has been deployed in Rajasthan for use in the Scheduled Desert Area as per the need. Indian Air Force also has conducted trials in anti-locust operation by using a Mi-17 helicopter.
“No significant crop losses have been reported in the States of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Haryana. However, some minor crop losses have been reported in some districts of Rajasthan,” the ministry said.