‘Locusts from Pakistan’ hit crops in Gujarat
The Gujarat government on Thursday promised compensation for farmers in Banaskantha district and other areas of North Gujarat which are facing a massive locust attack over the last two weeks.
Huge swarms of locusts, arriving from desert areas of Pakistan, descended in Banaskantha, Mehsana, Kutch, Patan and Sabarkantha districts over the last few days and attacked crops such as mustard, castor, fennel, cumin, cotton, potato, wheat and jatropha, officials said. In Banaskantha, crops over 5,000 hectares have been damaged, said a senior official. The Centre has sent 11 teams to help the state administration tackle the menace. “We have formed 27 teams, comprising central and state government officials, to keep a watch on the movement of swarms and to spray pesticide. Till now we have sprayed pesticide over 1,815 hectares in Banaskantha,” chief minister Vijay Rupani told reporters.
The state government would conduct a survey and compensate the affected farmers, he assured. Locusts were first seen in Suigam, Danta, Deesa, Palanpur and Lakhni tehsils of Banaskantha last week. From there they moved to Satlasana tehsil in Mehsana district. “They entered Gujarat from the desert areas of Pakistan. This is the second time in a month that locusts have invaded the north Gujarat fields,” deputy chief minister Nitin Patel said earlier.
Gujarat Congress chief Amit Chavda Paresh Dhanani said the government’s measures to contain the attack were inadequate. It should have used aircraft to spray pesticides, he said. Agriculture minister RC Faldu said this method could be dangerous for animals grazing in open fields.