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State prepared to meet locust threat: Agriculture minister

By Abhishek Behl, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON MAY 27, 2020 11:07 PM IST

The Haryana agriculture department is working in close collaboration with local panchayats and farmers to ensure that the locusts that have entered some areas of neighbouring Punjab and Rajasthan don’t cause damage to the crops in the state. Emergency response teams have been formed and seven districts bordering Rajasthan have been put on alert to meet any situation, state agriculture minister Jai Prakash Dalal said.

The locusts fly in large swarms and feed voraciously on crops and vegetation in large areas.

The threat posed by locusts in Gurugram is less as there is no standing crop in the district, local agriculture officials said, adding that preventive measures have been put in place. The officials of the Locust Warning Organisation based in Faridabad also said that there was no threat of swarms entering Delhi on Wednesday as these were moving towards Dausa, Karauli and Dholpur in Rajasthan

The state agriculture department, Dalal said, has been preparing for this threat since January as advisories and warnings regarding desert locusts were received much earlier. “We have alerted seven districts that border Rajasthan—Rewari, Mahendergarh, Sirsa, Fatehabad, Charkhi Dadri, Bhiwani and Hisar—and asked the local administrations to take preventive measures and keep a close watch on the situation,” he said.

The minister said that guidelines have been issued to local functionaries, tractor spray machines deployed, meetings held with farmers and the areas in which the likely spread can take place mapped. “We can’t stop the locusts from entering the state but by working on the ground, we can ensure that the damaged is prevented by spraying insecticides and taking other measures. Agriculture officers are collaborating with local farmers and have formed groups at the local level and supplied them with an adequate amount of insecticide to neutralise the locusts. We are closely monitoring the situation as well,” he said.

The cotton crop spread over 50,000 to 60,000 acres in the districts neighbouring Rajasthan is under threat because of the locust swarms, officials said.

As per the latest information shared by an official of the Locust Warning Organisation based in Faridabad, the locust swarms are moving towards Dausa, Karauli and Dholpur in Rajasthan and there is no threat to Delhi as of now, an official said.

Dr KL Gurjar, deputy director, directorate of plant protection, quarantine and storage, Faridabad, tweeted, “There is no possibility of reaching locust swarm in New Delhi upto 4 pm today as stated in the news. The swarms are moving towards Dausa, Karauli & Dholpur [sic].”

No official from the directorate responded for comment despite repeated calls.

The state agriculture department is also in touch with locust control units in the neighbouring states and is keeping a watch on their movement. Since January, the locusts have visited the state twice—once they were spotted in Elanabad and the second time in Loharu, the minister said.

Locust swarms have not been witnessed in India in decades. There have been instances of locust breeding at the local level, but they were controlled, agricultural experts said.

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