After a month, locust menace resurfaces in north Gujarat

Ahmedabad, Jan 20 (PTI) After a brief hiatus, locusts have again attacked crops in Gujarat's Banaskantha district, prompting the state and central teams to take immediate steps to control the menace, officials said on Monday.

Last month also, huge swarms of locusts damaged several crops in Banaskantha and Patan districts of north Gujarat, but the menace was controlled by December 20 with spray of pesticides.

The problem resurfaced three days ago when locusts again arrived from desert areas of Pakistan and attacked crops in Banaskantha, district agriculture officer P K Patel said.

'Due to change of wind direction, locusts have invaded parts of villages like Mavsar, Kundaliya and Radhanesda close to the border adjoining Pakistan. We are trying to control the problem by constant spray of pesticides,' he said.

The equipment provided by the central government and other machines mounted on tractors are being used to spray the pesticides, the official said.

'Teams of the central and state governments are working daily with the help of locals to trace the swarm of locusts and destroy them. We believe locusts are now moving towards neighbouring Rajasthan,' he said.

According to some locals in the affected villages, locusts coming from Tharparkar region of Pakistan have damaged standing crops, including cumin and castor, that are mainly grown in the area.

Last month also, huge swarms of locusts invaded parts of Banaskantha and Patan, feeding on crops like mustard, castor and wheat.

The problem was controlled by December 20 with spray of pesticides in the affected areas, an official earlier said.

The state government then estimated crop damage in 25,000 hectare area and announced a relief package of Rs 31.5 crore for nearly 11,000 affected farmers. PTI KA PD GK GK