Locust control operations in full swing

India has launched a full-fledged operation to control locust menace in the country, mainly in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

State Agricultural Departments, Local Administration and Border Security Forces are coordinating the operation, an official release said.

As many as 200 employees of Locust Warning Organization are deployed for conducting survey and control work. Control room has been established in all 10 Locust Circle Offices and also at Jodhpur.

Two locust swarms from Indo-Pak border areas are reported, one each in Bikaner and Sriganganagar district. Control operation is going on against these swarms. At present, swarms of immature pink locusts with intermittent population of maturing yellow adults are active in Jaisalmer, Barmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Sri Ganganagar, Jaipur, Nagaur, and Ajmer districts of Rajasthan, Panna district of Madhya Pradesh and Lalitpur district of Uttar Pradesh.

Everyday locust control operations are carried out in the morning hours with the help of vehicle mounted sprayers, tractors and fire tender vehicles. The control operations are conducted with cooperation and in coordination with concerned officials of district administration and State Agriculture Department.

So far, the Rajasthan government has deployed total 2,142 tractors and 46 fire brigade vehicles, Madhya Pradesh total 83 tractors and 47 fire brigade vehicles, Uttar Pradesh 4 tractors and 16 fire brigade vehicles, Punjab total 50 tractors and 6 fire brigade vehicles and Gujarat deployed 38 tractors for locust control. The immature locust is very active and mobile making it difficult to control the swarm at one location, due to which it takes 4 to 5 days to control at different locations to completely eliminate the locust population in one place. The yellow, mature adults appear tending to copulate in some areas.

Supply order for 60 additional sprayers is placed with a UK-based company. The Government has also issued a supply order of 5 CD Atomizer kits with GPS Trackers for aerial spray capabilities from the UK based company. The first two kits will be available in September 2020 and the remaining 3 kits are to be made after one month of their successful testing. These kits will be fitted into helicopters of the Indian Air Force (as agreed by them) and will be used for air operations for control of desert locusts.

For effective control of locusts in inaccessible areas and on top of tall trees, use of drones is being explored. An e-tender was invited to provide services of drones for aerial spraying of pesticides. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has approved conditional exemption for locust control. An Empowered Committee has been constituted under the Chairmanship of Additional Secretary, DAC&FW to assess and facilitate the possibility of aerial control capability as a locust control measure. On its recommendation, Work Order for engagement of drones has been issued to 5 companies. These companies have started work in Barmer, Jaisalmer, Phalodi, Bikaner and Nagaur areas and so far 12 drones have been deployed.

Supply order has also been issued for purchase of 55 additional vehicles to strengthen the control capacity. 33 vehicles have been delivered and deployed in locust control operations.

The situation is monitored constantly by higher authorities and needful is being done on priority basis.

Locust control has been undertaken in 114,026 hectare area in Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

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