The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday said several of the districts in the state are under locust swarms attack including Jhansi, Chitrakoot, Prayagraj, Pratapgarh, Bhadohi, Azamgarh and Ambedkar Nagar in past 48 hours.
Swarms of crop-destroying locusts entered over half a dozen districts in Uttar Pradesh after crossing Rajasthan, Haryana and border areas of the national capital, prompting the state government to sound an alert on Saturday, while the Centre said it has deputed more teams to assist in control operations.
The state agriculture department said the authorities of the neighbouring districts have been asked to remain alert.
The Centre said locust control operations are going on in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Punjab and Maharashtra. And till now, 1,27,225 hectares have been controlled from 11th April 2020.
The Centre has deployed drones, tractor mounted sprayers and fire tender vehicles to undertake locust control in the country. India is the first country to control locust by using drones after finalizing the protocols. Though the major drones operations are concentrated in Rajasthan, some of them have been moved from Jaisalmer to join operations in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
The Centre said in total 60 ground control teams of Locust Circle Offices and 12 drones are being used for locust control operations in the affected areas. The Locust Warning Organization and 10 Locust Circle Offices in coordination with state governments are undertaking locust control operations. The state governments through their agriculture departments are undertaking the locust control in cropped area.
To strengthen locust control capabilities the country, 10 ground spray equipments were imported from Britain in January 2020 and 15 equipments in June 2020. Additional 45 ground spray equipments will reach in the month of July 2020 and the Locust Circle Offices will have more than 100 ground control equipment by July.
Presently 60 control teams and more than 200 Central Government personnel are engaged in locust control operations, the union government said.
State governments have deployed tractor mounted sprayers and fire tender vehicles and are making necessary arrangements for control wherever the swarm finally settles.
Experts said, four species of locusts are found in India — desert locust, migratory locust, Bombay locust and tree locust. Among them, the desert locusts are considered the most destructive since it multiplies rapidly and are capable of covering 150 kilometres in a day. Desert locusts can eat more than its body weight. A one square kilometre of locust swarm containing around 40 million locusts, can eat as much food as 35,000 people in a day.
Experts blame the growing menace of desert locusts on climate change. They say breeding of locusts is directly related to soil moisture and food availability.