Concerned over the spate of attacks on crops by swarms of locusts in neighbouring areas of southern Punjab bordering Rajasthan, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to direct the Union Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian High Commission in Islamabad to immediately take up the issue with the government of Pakistan, from where the pests were emanating.In a letter to the Prime Minister, Captain Amarinder said there has been a sustained attack of locust swarms on crops in the State of Rajasthan recently. A significant number of these pests have also entered into the neighbouring areas of southern Punjab.“Although Rajasthan has been taking the required action to control this locust attack, the best method of control is to manage the breeding ground itself, which incidentally falls in the adjoining desert area of Pakistan,” he wrote.The Chief Minister thus emphasized the need to take up this issue directly with the Government of Pakistan and press them to take effective steps to sanitize the breeding areas of these locusts.The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, which is mandated to control locusts internationally, may also be asked to take effective steps in Pakistan to control breeding to ensure that these do not develop into dangerous swarms which can cause havoc to crops, said the Chief Minister.
At the national level, a coordinated locust control mechanism should be made effective by use of modern technology, helicopters and drones for spraying insecticides, etc. to control the spread of the pestilence, he added.The Chief Minister further suggested that the Ministry of Agriculture, GoI, should also coordinate with the FAO to ensure that the breeding grounds are sanitised and brought under control.Captain Amarinder warned that any failure to control these swarms could lead to serious implications and consequence for agricultural production in India, especially in the States of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat, which will ultimately affect the commodity prices and food security of the country.It may be recalled that on the directives of the Chief Minister, the Agriculture department has already pressed into service several special monitoring and survey teams in the vulnerable parts of southern Punjab to keep a close tab on the situation around the clock. These teams have been constantly surveying the districts of Bathinda, Sri Muktsar Sahib and Fazilka in the vicinity of Rajasthan border.Additional Chief Secretary (Development) Viswajeet Khanna is also extensively touring Abohar and the adjoining areas to assess the prevailing situation and evolve a multi-pronged strategy to combat any unforeseen exigency arising out of the locust swarms.