Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar, said on Thursday that the government is concerned about the issue of locusts and is dealing with the situation urgently, after holding a high-level meeting with both the Ministers of State for Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, Parshottam Rupala and Kailash Choudhary, and Secretary (DAC&FW), Sanjay Agarwal, to review the locust control operations.
Tomar said in a statement issued by the ministry, "The Centre is in close touch with the affected states and an advisory has been issued. Fifteen sprayers will start arriving from Britain in the next 15 days. Besides, 45 more sprayers will be procured in a month or one-and-a-half months.''
Drones will be used to spray pesticides on tall trees and at inaccessible places for effective control of locusts, while plans are afoot to deploy helicopters for aerial spray, he added.
Tomar said 11 regional control rooms have been established and special contingents have been deployed along with additional manpower to check the spread of locusts. He assured that the affected states will be allocated additional resources and financial aid if required.
The DAC&FW Secretary informed the ministers that currently 21 micronairs and 26 Ulvamasts (47 spray equipment in total) in the locust control offices (LCOs) are being used for locust control and 200 officials have been deployed for the purpose.
Beyond the scheduled desert areas, temporary control camps have also been set up in Jaipur, Chittorgarh and Dausa in Rajasthan, Sheopur, Neemuch and Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh and Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh, said the statement.
Locusts have been controlled in an area of about 50,468 hectares in 334 locations in Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, according to the Agriculture Ministry.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation had approved "conditional exemption to government entity (DPPQS) for use of remotely piloted aircraft system for anti-locust operations on May 21, and in accordance with this order, two firms have been finalised through tender for the use of drones for spraying pesticides, the statement added.
"Today, there is no information regarding entry of any new locust swarm from the Indo-Pak border areas, whereas, on May 26, a locust swarm had entered from Sri Ganganagar district in Rajasthan. Control operation is going on against these swarms," said the ministry.
As on date, there are some active swarms of immature locusts in Barmer, Jodhpur, Nagaur, Bikaner, Suratgarh and Dausa districts of Rajasthan, Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh, Rewa, Morena, Betul and Khandwa districts in Madhya Pradesh, and Nagpur and Amravati districts in Maharashtra, for which control operations are in progress, said the statement.