Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday directed 14 district administrations to remain alert to swarms of locusts and asked people to bang thalis and drums to ward off insects.
These 14 districts are Jhansi, Lalitpur, Agra, Mathura, Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat, Hamirpur, Mahoba, Banda, Chitrakoot, Jalaun, Etawah and Kanpur Dehat. They either share borders with other states or close to them. Jhansi has deployed fire brigade vehicles loaded with insecticide as it fears that swarms could enter the district from neighbouring Madhya Pradesh.
“An advisory has been issued that in case there is an attack by locusts, people should gather at a place and bang dhols, drums, tin boxes and thalis, and create noise,” read a statement issued by the state government on Wednesday.
Over the last few days, swarms of locusts have been sighted in Madhya Pradesh, Vidharbha region of Maharashtra and urban areas of Rajasthan. Experts argue that the arrival of locusts is a routine event but the scale this time is much bigger.
Adityanath and Agriculture Minister Surya Pratap Shahi have instructed district magistrates and Agriculture department officials to take preventive steps to tackle the issue.
“At the state level, teams have been formed to tackle the issue. They will visit border areas to keep vigil and inform districts concerned to ensure timely action. At district headquarters, nodal officers have been appointed and a task force constituted. Information on how to tackle locusts has been sent to district officials through social media and other means. Farmers have been given information on the issue,” said the statement.
District officials of the Agriculture Department have been told to coordinate with technical officials of the Locust Warning Organisation and locals, according to the statement.
Near Jhansi, a swarm spread over a square kilometre was spotted in Madhya Pradesh’s Datia district, said Kamal Katiyar, deputy director in UP’s Agriculture Department. It could enter the adjacent Jhansi district through Moth or Samthar, he said.
The wind direction increases the chances of this happening.
A swarm had earlier attacked some parts of Jhansi district ion May 22 and 24 but an already alert administration, with the help of local people, eliminated over a half of it. As part of preparations for another wave, two fire brigade vehicles with insecticide have been deployed in all four tehsils of the district. In addition, six more vehicles were ready at the district headquarter, Katiyar said.
Ten municipal employees with two insecticide spraying machines had been posted in every block, Katiyar said. He said the movement of locusts would d pend on the wind direction.
Going by the present direction, the locusts could enter Jhansi district from Moth and Samthar and then move towards Jalaun and Hamirpur districts in Bundelkhand region. Locusts don’t target animals or humans but can devastate crop fields.
On Tuesday, the district administration had asked people to alert it they spot a swarm. “This is an emergency, and we need to remain vigilant. This swarm has come travelling through Iran, Pakistan, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh,” Jhansi DM Andra Vamsi had said.
The DM said a seven-member team from the Centre was touring Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to deal with the locusts.
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