Locusts Would Not Have Spread if Rajasthan had Cooperated: Union Minister Kailash Choudhary

Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Kailash Choudhary has said that if the Rajasthan government had cooperated, the problem posed by locusts would not have spilled beyond the state, and rather would have been contained there.

He said that effective control of locusts could have been done more effectively in the border areas and with the Rajasthan government's cooperation.

The Union Minister said that despite the financial support from the central government for locust control, the Rajasthan government did not initiate any action due to which the locusts in the border area could not be effectively controlled.

He said that the central government gave Rs 14 crore for pest control in Rajasthan, but the state did not cooperate in taking necessary measures in stopping the insects from entering Rajasthan from the Pakistan areas.

The minister said that the state government did not make any arrangements for the machines and tractors and other farm equipment needed in the border areas of Barmer, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Ganganagar.

Locusts have posed a new problem amid the coronavirus epidemic, which has reached about 90 districts spread over 10 states in the country, including Delhi, and is threatening the Kharif crops.

Asked whether the state governments had failed to deal with the swarms of locusts, he said that efforts were on to control them effectively in states, including Rajasthan.

He said drones are being used for aerial spraying, along with hi-tech machines such as micronair sprayers to kill the locusts, whereas aerial spraying with the help of helicopters will soon begin to allow for more effective anti-locust measures.

For this, a helicopter with ULV nozzle has been prepared, Choudhary said, adding that the spray of chemicals with the help of chopper will begin from July 1.

He said that a sprayer machine with indigenous technology has been developed on the lines of micronair, which has been tested successfully and hence there will be no need to further import equipment for locust control.

India, however, has purchased 60 micronair sprayer machines from the UK, of which 15 have arrived whereas the rest are expected next month.

The Union Minister said that the responsibility of controlling locusts in populated areas is with the state governments and the Centre was extending full cooperation in this regard.

According to information received from the Ministry of Agriculture, till June 26, locust control operations were carried out over an area of 1,33,225 hectares at 1,033 places in 90 districts of eight states in the country.

These 90 districts include 27 in Rajasthan, 40 in Madhya Pradesh, five in Gujarat, one in Punjab, 10 in Uttar Pradesh, four in Maharashtra, one in Chhattisgarh, and two in Bihar.

Apart from this, swarms of grasshoppers too were looming on Saturday over some areas of NCR-Delhi, including Gurugram, Rewari, Jhajjar, Faridabad and Palwal in Haryana.