Locust control operations were carried out in more than 2.75 lakh hectares area in the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhatisgarh, Haryana and Bihar from April 11 till July 6, 2020, according to the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
Aerial spraying capacity for anti-locust operations has also been strengthened, along with a Bell helicopter deployed in Rajasthan.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has also conducted trials in anti-locust operations by using a Mi-17 helicopter.
Further, five compes with 15 drones have also been deployed at Barmer, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Nagaur and Phalodi in Rajasthan for locust control on tall trees and in inaccessible areas.
The Ministry said that as of July 6 control operations have been done in 1,43,422 hectares area by Locust Circle Offices (LCOs), apart from this, control operations have also been done in 1,32,465 hectares area by state governments.
"In the intervening night of July 6 and 7, control operations were carried out at 22 places in 7 districts viz.Barmer, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Nagaur, Ajmer, Sikar and Jaipur of Rajasthan State and 1 place each in Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh and Tikamgarh districts of Madhya Pradesh by LCOs. Besides this, State Agriculture Department of Uttar Pradesh also carried out control operations at 3 places in Jhansi district, while that of Madhya Pradesh State Agriculture Department at 1 place in Tikamgarh district, in the intervening night of 6th-7th July 2020 against small groups and scattered population of locusts," a release read.
The Ministry said that India has become the first country in the world to deploy drones to fight the locust invasion.
On May 21, the MoCA had granted conditional exemption to the government entity for use of remotely Piloted Air Craft System for anti-locust operations subject to various terms and conditions. Further, on June 27, MoCA further relaxed the terms and conditions and permitted the use of engine-powered drone up to 50kg and use of drones during night times also for anti-locust operations.
Presently 60 control teams with spray vehicles are deployed in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and more than 200 Central Government personnel are engaged in locust control operations. In addition, today 20 spray equipments have reached India.
It added that the locusts have caused minor crop losses in Rajasthan.
( With inputs from ANI )