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Govt forms emergency teams as locusts reach state’s borders

Admn swings into action after insects were spotted moving towards three villages of Sirsa along Punjab border
Hindustan Times,CHANDIGARH | By Rajesh Moudgil, Chandigarh
PUBLISHED ON FEB 05, 2020 10:31 PM IST

The arrival of locust swarms in pockets of neighbouring Punjab and Rajasthan from Pakistan has made the Haryana government sit up and take all-out preventive and remedial steps.

Having been alerted that the locusts are moving towards Phulon, Chatha and Panniwala Morika villages of Sirsa district, the agriculture department has formed emergency response teams at Sirsa and Fatehabad as well as in Chandigarh, besides putting the local authorities of the districts bordering Punjab on the alert.

The locust swarms were spotted in three villages of Fazilka district on Punjab on Sunday, though timely action by state authorities prevented damage to crops in the area.

“We are also in a constant touch with the central government’s locust control centre, Jodhpur, and officials in the bordering Punjab. A few dozens of dead locusts were found in the fields of Dabwali in Sirsa district,” additional chief secretary, Sanjeev Kaushal, agriculture, told HT.

He said the government has also authorised the deputy commissioners to form farmers’ groups, issue them advisories and supply the required insecticides with up to 50% subsidy or even 100% subsidy in case of emergency. The local administration has also been supplied stocks of the required insecticides, he added.

Locusts, which fly in swarms often covering wide swathes of skyline of an area, are short-horned grasshoppers with migratory habit. They feed voraciously on crops and vegetations.

RARE PHENOMENON

It is said to be a rare phenomenon as India has not witnessed any full-blown locust attack after 1962. However, during 1978 and 1993, large-scale upsurges were observed, top Haryana agriculture officials said. They added that localised locust breeding had also been reported and controlled during 1998, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2010, though the situation remained normal. No major breeding and swarm formation had been reported in this part of the country ever since.

LOCUST CHARACTERISTS

Adult locusts are pink in colour, but older ones become dark red or brown. The locust swarms migrate in the direction of the wind. The wind speed and its direction determine their movement. These do not cause any economic damage to agricultural and horticultural crops unless they appear in swarms that comprise of hundreds of thousands of hoppers.

CONTROL MEASURES

Kaushal said that farmers and officials have been advised to be vigilant about the locust swarms in their villages and surrounding areas.

The swarms can be prevented from settling over the crops and vegetations by beating drums/making loud noise too. Since swarms settle towards sunset, spray of insecticides done during the night or early in the morning decimate them. Egg laying sites in the field can be destroyed by spray of insecticides.

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