NEW DELHI: Delhi government has drawn up a plan to deal with the possibility of a locust attack in the capital. The government has asked the authorities concerned to focus on awareness and to spray insecticides and pesticides on crops and vegetation to prevent a probable desert locust invasion. Swarms of the winged insects have overrun many parts of Rajasthan and could be headed to Delhi.
Development minister Gopal Rai said on Thursday that in view of the increasing threat of locusts in north India, the agriculture department would initiate a campaign to make people and farmers of the city aware of the new threat. “We have issued an advisory for spraying pesticides to deal with possible locust attacks,” Rai said. “There are many north Indian states that are witnessing a massive locust attacks and keeping that situation in mind, we issued the necessary advisory. Alerts and directions have been sent to revenue commissioners, district magistrates and commissioners of the municipal corporations.”
Delhi does not have large stretches of farmlands like its neighbouring states, only small farmlands in parts of outer Delhi like Bawana, Narela, Najafgarh and on the Yamuna floodplain. The city currently has around 34,750 hectares of cropped area, of which a vast majority is being used for commercial horticulture and value-added agriculture activities, like organic farming. The Yamuna floodplain is also used extensively for growing vegetables and floriculture. These areas may be affected in case of a locust attack.
Swarms of locust do not keep themselves confined to farmlands but also attack vegetation, plants, gardens and orchards. Such things exist across the city, including in areas with dense human habitation.
After holding a meeting with senior officials, Rai said that he was personally monitoring the city’s preparedness for any sort of attack. “Officials have been instructed to work proactively to ensure Delhi is prepared to deal with locusts,” the minister said.
The government advisory stated, “Preventive measures must be undertaken to eradicate locusts on standing agricultural and horticultural crops, etc.”