5-km-long locust swarm, Haryana on alert

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27

Haryana has issued a high alert, particularly in the NCR districts, after a locust swarm, 5 km in length and 2 km in width, entered Mahendragarh and Rewari districts from Rajasthan on Friday evening and moved towards Gurugram and Faridabad, threatening to damage vegetation.

The swarm, seen over 12 villages of Jatusana and Khol blocks of Rewari, moved towards Jhajjar and entered Gurugram’s plush areas this morning, covering the skyline in parts of the city. Sanjeev Kaushal, Additional Chief Secretary, Agriculture, said the department sprayed insecticides to eliminate the insect. “Tractor-mounted spray guns were deployed wherever necessary,” he said. The swarm later split into two, one moving towards Palwal and the other towards Sonepat. Kaushal said cotton and millet fields covering 2,000- 2,500 hectares of land had been affected and the estimated damage was 5-10 per cent. State Agriculture Minister JP Dalal visited the affected villages and promised compensation to the farmers after a special girdawari.

Untimely Rains to blame

Climate change is facilitating breeding and movement of locusts. Untimely rains and increased cyclonic activity have helped them breed faster. —Devinder Sharma, Agri expert

Talking to the media in Rewari, he said Mahendragarh, Bhiwani, Jhajjar and Rewari districts had been alerted on Friday itself. To a query, the minister said nothing could be done while the locusts were air-borne. “WhatsApp groups have been formed at the village level to keep the farmers informed of their movement ,” he added.

A report from Delhi said the swarm from Jhunjhunu (Rajasthan) moved in groups towards Gurugram and Palwal and from there towards Uttar Pradesh. The Union Agriculture Ministry said that control operations were underway in Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The Delhi Government too issued an alert.

India had last month battled a devastating desert locust outbreak with the crop-destroying swarms attacking Rajasthan and then spreading to Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

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