Locusts swarm in Rajasthan’s Jaipur, move towards Dausa
Residents of Rajasthan’s Jaipur woke up to locusts flying over the city sky on Monday even as officials of the agriculture department said the swarm over the city was on its way to Dausa.
More than half of Rajasthan’s 33 districts are affected by invasion by these crop-munching insects.
Officials said the swarm that flew over Jaipur city came from Nagaur.
“It settled in Sarna Chod and Sanchoti villages in Sanganer tehsil on Sunday night. We were able to control around 30% of the 5km-by-1.5km swarm,” BR Kadwa, deputy director of the agriculture department in Jaipur, said.
The remaining insects came to Jaipur city on Monday morning, making people wonder how locusts, which are traditionally known to be attacking western Rajasthan districts bordering Pakistan, could come to the state capital.
Locals circulated videos and photos of locust swarms on WhatsApp groups.
The swarm, Kadwa said, came from Deedwana in Nagaur and entered Jaipur through Kishangarh Renwal and Jobner.
“We carried out the control operations in Jhotwara panchayat samiti area on Saturday night. Then it flew to Vidhyadhar Nagar and Shastri Nagar,” Kadwa said.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s Desert Locust Information Service bulletin says that locusts can fly up to 150km in a day and a one-square-kilometre swarm can eat as much food as 35,000 people, in terms of weight, in a single day.
“The swarm has crossed Jaipur city and moved towards Dausa,” said Om Prakash, agriculture commissioner.
A locust outbreak was reported in Rajasthan in May last year after a gap of 26 years and the attack continued until February this year, damaging crop on at least 670,000 hectares across 12 districts, according to the agriculture department.
The state put the loss due to the invasion to about Rs 1,000 crore.
The Locust Warning Organisation (LWO) of the Union ministry of agriculture and farmer welfare warned of another attack in May-June this year.
Sure enough, an attack was reported in Ganganagar, a north Rajasthan district bordering Pakistan, on May 11.
Last year, the swarms were first spotted in Jaisalmer, another bordering town.
The United Nations (UN) has warned that armies of locusts swarming across continents pose a “severe risk” to India’s agriculture this year.
Authorities across the country have said they have stepped up vigil, deployed drones to detect their movement and held talks with Pakistan, the most likely gateway for an invasion by the insects, on ways to minimise the damage.
Uttar Pradesh’s agriculture department on Sunday informed Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and bordering districts of the state about the possibility of locust attack and asked them to take preventive steps accordingly.
On Sunday, swarms of locusts arrived in Malhargarh area of Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur district.