Central team visits Punjab border villages, says no locusts swarms found

Raakhi Jagga
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Congress MLA Parminder Singh Pinki in Basti Ramlal village of Ferozepur Wednesday. (File Photo)

A central government team that visited Fazilka’s villages close to the Rajasthan border on Wednesday has said that the population of locusts in the border villages of Punjab is “nil”.

Ferozepur MLA Parminder Singh Pinki also visited border villages of Ferozepur on the call of farmers.

Dr Jagdish Godara, assistant plant protecting officer from the department of agriculture, government of India, visited Fazilka’s Gumjal, Panniwala and Kallerkhera villages to take feedback from farmers. Speaking to The Indian Express, he said, “I did not find any population of locusts. They were spotted in these border villages of Fazilka on Friday, but not we did not find any...Pest management has been done and I believe things are now under control.”

Farmers however expressed their doubts saying pest breeding may happen with the rise of temperatures, to which Dr Godara replied, “A few locusts that were spotted were pink in colour, which indicates that they were still at the maturing stage. Breeding is not possible at that stage, it happens when the pest grows into an adult and turns yellow. As not there is no population of locusts, breeding is also not possible.”

Dr Godara is expected to stay in the area for another day. He said his team was working in Rajasthan’s Sriganganagar area, where pests had inflicted damage to crops in villages close to the Pakistan border.

Ajaypal Bishnoi, agriculture development officer, department of agriculture, Punjab, accompanied Godara. “Locusts always attack when they are in swarms. Solitary, they are ineffective. Hence, farmers need not worry now,” he said.

Meanwhile, Congress MLA Pinki met farmers in border villages of Nihala Lavera, Basti Kidan Singh, Basti Ram Lal, Basti Baghewali and Dhira Ghara of Ferozepur district. “A few farmers had spotted locusts and panicked. They made calls to me, so I visited. However, we could not spot any pest on our visit. A few spotted by farmers had either been eaten by predators like crows or had been killed by farmers themselves.”

Pinki asked farmers not to panic as the department was prepared.

Meanwhile, agriculture experts said locusts have entered the desert areas of Gujarat and Rajasthan from Pakistan. The pest has already caused damage to crops in the two states.

In Punjab, locusts were spotted in villages of Fazilka, Muktsar, Bathinda, Ferozepur and Mansa. Punjab Agriculture Secretary Kahan Singh Pannu had earlier said that there has been no locust attack on crops in the state so far.