Rajasthan spat as locusts from Pakistan eat up Rabi crops

Rajasthan: The Western districts of Rajasthan are facing a serious locust threat, one that has put their entire Rabi crop at risk. The locust swarms have been coming into the Western districts of the state since the month of May but there have been no concerted joint efforts involving both Centre and State to end this problem.

At the same time both have been claiming credit for what has been done and laying fault at the other for not fulfilling their duty. As many as nine out of 33 districts of Rajasthan are affected by the locusts swarms or tiddi dal as they are called in the local language. Several districts of Gujarat are also affected by this influx.

Chief minister Ashok Gehlot held a monitoring meeting for locust control where Agriculture minister Lalchand Kataria and senior officials were present. As per the information put before the chief minister, the districts of Jaisalmer, Barmer, Jalore, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Churu, Sriganganagar, Hanumangarh and Nagaur are under locust threat.

Out of these the worst affected are Barmer and Jaisalmer. The extended stay of the locusts places the Rabi crops under danger of being destroyed. As many as 10 large swarms of locusts have entered into the state. Crops and vegetation has been saved in 3.10 lakh square hectare of land.

CM Gehlot tweeted after the meeting, “Continuous activity of locusts is not a routine. As locust control is under the purview of the Centre, they should allocate additional funds and resources to deal with it. As the locusts are entering India with winds coming from Pakistan, international cooperation and collaboration is also a must to deal with it.”

Speaking to Free Press Journal, Union minister of state for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary said, “The Centre is making all possible efforts to deal with the situation.

Over 70 teams have been deployed to take stock of situation and check the spread of the locusts. We have managed to contain them and had our efforts not been sustained, they would have reached Jaipur for Gehlot to see in his backyard.”

“We have held a meeting with officials from Pakistan and offered them help to control the locusts as ultimately we are getting affected. But they have refused our offer,” said Choudhary who is MP from Barmer a severely affected border district.

“An SDR fund is allocated to the state to deal with requirements such as these and if the state needs more, it has to ask and it is provided. But there is nothing but apathy from the Rajasthan government,” added Choudhary.

Locusts breed in Baluchistan area of Pakistan and move towards India with the western winds in the summer. However this time they have not left even till its winter. Weather experts say this is due to the winds still blowing from Afghanistan towards India. It is a rare occurrence.

The farmers are also resorting to traditional means like smoke and loud sounds by beating tins and plates to drive them away. Farmers in Sriganganagar and Hanumangarh are using DJ systems to play loud music to get the locusts to fly away.

A locust swarm eats up everything growing above the soil on the groud where it lands. A single locust can lay as many as 200 to 500 eggs when it halts on the ground for the night. They are a calamity feared by the farmers.

The extended stay of the locusts has also led to farmers resorting to superstitious means too. Farmers in Sirohi are visiting Godmen to obatain water ‘blessed water’ to sprinkle in their fields to drive away the locust army.

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