After Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the two earlier victims of locust attack, at least 10 districts in Uttar Pradesh have been put on alert and asked to undertake measures for controlling or eliminating the crop-eating pests.
The desert locusts pose a massive threat for the agricultural economy as it feeds on any kind of green vegetation, including crops, pasture and fodder. It is considered to be the most devastating migratory pests that are characterised by their ability to breed rapidly. The locusts usually moves in swarms.
The 10 districts bordering Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are at a higher risk of falling victims to these desert locusts since they have already attacked crops in the two states. The locusts had initially entered Rajasthan from Pakistan, and then invaded Madhya Pradesh over the past few days.
“In view of the threat of locust attack in areas bordering Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, local officials have been put on alert and asked to remain prepared with chemicals in tractor mounted sprayers, power sprayers and fire brigades, and undertake heavy spraying during the night,” said a government spokesperson said.
Besides, local villagers have been asked to make noise by beating ‘thalis’ and bursting crackers to drive away a locust swarm. This will help in controlling or eliminating locusts at their resting place, he said, adding that officials have been asked to coordinate with the technical teams of the Locust Warning Organisation and farmers.
He said a swarm of locusts was seen in the jungles of Jhansi on Sunday and 40 per cent of it was destroyed after chemicals were sprayed by state and central government teams. Due to the wind direction, there was a threat from this swarm in Mahoba district, which was put on high alert, he said. There are reports of partial damage to vegetables in 25 hectares of area and a detailed inspection of the extent of loss is being done, he added.
The spokesperson said another swarm was active in Karauli in Rajasthan, following which an alert was issued for Jhansi, Lalitpur, Jalaun and Auraiya and their adjoining districts like Hamirpur, Kannauj, Etawah and Kanpur Dehat.
Deputy Director Agriculture Kamal Katiyar said the swarm of locusts is moving and is small in size. “We have got news that nearly 2.5 to 3 km long swarm of locusts has entered the country. A team has come from Kota (Rajasthan) to tackle the locusts.” He said at present, the locust swarm is at Bangra Magarpur.
The Mathura district administration has started early preparations in view of the growing locust threat and formed a task force. District Magistrate Sarvagya Ram Mishra said 200 litres of chloropyriphos has been kept as reserve and its sellers in the area have been advised not to supply the chemical outside the district.
The Jhansi administration has also directed the fire department to keep its vehicle ready with chemicals to tackle a sudden movement by locust swarms. District Magistrate Andra Vamsi has said the villagers along with the common public has been told to inform control room about the movement.
(With inputs from agencies)