Several parts of South Haryana were hit by swarms of locusts Saturday morning, with officials saying that although the groups had flown through Gurgaon, Faridabad, and Jhajjar, they had not inflicted any major damage in the areas.
In Gurgaon, a locust warning had been issued by the administration on Friday night, advising residents to keep their windows and doors closed since some swarms had reached Mahendragarh. Residents were also asked to gather together in the event of an attack and make loud noises by beating tin cans, plates and drums to ward off the insects.
According to the Deputy Director of the Agriculture Department in Gurgaon, Atmaram Godara, the locust swarm that passed through Gurgaon Saturday morning was around 5 kilometres wide and 8 kilometres in length. Before coming to Gurgaon, he said, the swarm was divided into four — two passed over Gurgaon towards Delhi, while one went towards Jhajjar and the other to Nuh.
“However, due to the change in wind direction, eventually, even the groups that had moved towards Delhi and Jhajjar went towards Faridabad and Nuh instead,” said Godara.
According to officials, around 200 tractor trolleys with spray pumps were arranged in the district, and around 2,000 litres of Chloropyriphos, a drug used as a chemical deterrent, was procured to spray on locusts in Gurgaon.
“Fortunately, there has been no damage in Gurgaon due to the locusts, who simply flew through the district without descending anywhere,” Godara said.
In Jhajjar, where locusts arrived around 8 am, officials said they had already received a warning on the arrival of the swarms from Rewari district.
Later in the day, a small swarm of locusts had entered South Delhi’s Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary area and Mehrauli near the Haryana border. Delhi Development Minister Gopal Rai said the state forest department was asked to sound dhols, drums and DJ music and spray chemicals to control the swarm.
South and southwest Delhi districts are presently kept on high alert and the district magistrates were asked to make preparations.
Rai held a meeting in the afternoon with the development secretary, divisional commissioner, and the director of agriculture and horticulture in view of a possible locust attack on Delhi.
“A big swarm was slowly moving towards Palwal, Haryana, but a small group broke off and entered Asola Bhatti on the Delhi border. We have a land that belongs to the forest department in the area. We immediately gave directions to the forest department to sound dhols, drums and DJs and to spray chemicals,” he said after the meeting.
Following the meeting, the Delhi government also issued an advisory that advised all district magistrates to remain on high alert and coordinate with fire department personnel for spraying prescribed pesticides.
The advisory directed the DMs to guide residents in villages to drive away locusts by making “high decibel sound through beating of drums or utensils, playing high volume music on music system or DJs, firing crackers, burning of neem leaves and other similar measures”.
Keeping doors and windows closed, covering outdoor plants with plastic sheets, and spraying pesticides melathion or chloropyriphos at the swarm at night while wearing a PPE kit were also among the measures suggested in the advisory.
A forest department official said the swarm had descended in the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary area around 2.30pm and was driven away by staff in an hour.
“They ate some leaves from the plants and trees but overall the damage was very minor. The swarm was a small one, and our staff drove it away physically by clapping and not letting them stay on the ground. We had also kept water tankers ready but they were not needed as the wind direction changed and the swarm fled,” the official said.
There were also reports of the swarm being spotted in areas of south Delhi, including Chattarpur and Mehrauli. Sam Dalrymple, on whose residence a swarm descended in Mehrauli, said: “It was all very surreal. Huge numbers of them swirled around like waves in the sky for maybe half an hour. Then they suddenly vanished and moved on.”
After leaving from Delhi later in the afternoon, the swarm headed in the direction of Bulandshahr district in Uttar Pradesh where it was expected to settle down by 8 pm, said K L Gurjar, Deputy director of the Centre’s Locust Warning Organisation. “We will try to eliminate it there and not it proceed,” he said.
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