Punjab CM urges Modi to raise issue of locust attack in border districts with Pakistan
Concerned over the spate of attacks on crops by swarms of locusts in neighbouring areas of southern Punjab bordering Rajasthan, chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to direct the ministry of external affairs and the Indian high commission in Islamabad to immediately take up the issue with the government of Pakistan, from where the pests are emanating.
In a letter to Modi, Amarinder said there has been a sustained attack of locust swarms on crops in Rajasthan. A significant number of these pests have entered neighbouring areas in southern Punjab.
“Though Rajasthan has been taking the required action to control this locust attack, the best method of control is to manage the breeding ground itself, which incidentally falls in the adjoining desert area of Pakistan,” he said.
The chief minister said Pakistan should be asked to take effective steps to sanitise the breeding areas of these locusts.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, which is mandated to control locusts internationally, could be asked to take effective steps in Pakistan to control breeding and ensure locusts do not develop into dangerous swarms that can cause havoc to crops, the chief minister said.
At the national level, a coordinated locust control mechanism should be made by using modern technology, helicopters and drones for spraying insecticides, to control the spread.
The agriculture ministry should coordinate with the FAO to ensure breeding grounds are sanitised.
Meanwhile, the state agriculture department has pressed into service special monitoring and survey teams in vulnerable parts of southern Punjab to keep a tab on the situation. These teams have been surveying the districts of Bathinda, Muktsar and Fazilka near the Rajasthan border.
Additional chief secretary (development) Viswajeet Khanna is touring Abohar to assess the situation.