New Delhi: A swarm of adult locusts at least 3 square km in size invaded Gurgaon Saturday morning. Videos posted on social media showed residential complexes covered by swarms of locusts.
Authorities in Haryana were already on alert for a locust invasion from the Rajasthan border, and arrangements were made to spray chemicals through vehicle-mounted pump sets in rural areas of Sonipat, Jhajjar and Rewari to protect crops across farmlands in the state.
In urban areas, meanwhile, residents found themselves compelled to ward off the insects by making noise by beating utensils.
Locust attack in DLF phase 2, Gurgaon pic.twitter.com/OOGnT0LJsG
— Chaitali Chakravarty (@Chaitaliet) June 27, 2020
Swarms of locust in Gurugram on Saturday heading towards Delhi from over Sector 4-5 and Kherki Daula toll plaza: Agriculture Deputy Director Atmaram Godara @the_hindu @abaruah64 pic.twitter.com/NLp2wcDa8N
— Ashok Berwal (@berwaltweets) June 27, 2020
The authorities in Delhi-NCR have been on alert for locust invasions since earlier this year, with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) issuing warnings of a massive attack across eastern Africa, Iran, Pakistan and India.
Control rooms and watch centres have been set up in Gautam Buddha Nagar and Delhi to spot the movement of locust swarms.
“The swarm that has invaded Haryana is believed to have crossed over into India from the Pakistan border to the Jaisalmer-Jodhpur border area to reach Jhunjhunu near Delhi-NCR,” said K.L. Gujjar, deputy director of Locust Warning Organisation (LWO). “Thereon they crossed over into Haryana at Rewari and travelled towards Gurgaon via Jhajjar and Rewari.
“We have taken necessary precautions to prevent further invasion in the Delhi-NCR area and authorities are on high alert to coordinate action if they travel further towards Delhi,” he added. “However, it is unlikely that they will reach Delhi because they are moving in the west to east direction and they are predicted to head towards Palwal via Faridabad,” he said.
Delhi calls meeting
Delhi Labour and Development Minister Gopal Rai has called an emergency meeting Saturday to discuss a possible locust attack in Delhi. The meeting will be attended by representatives from agricultural authorities, the development secretary, divisional commissioners, and district magistrates.
A desert locust bulletin issued by the FAO on 20 June urged India to be on high alert during the next four weeks in anticipation of severe waves of locust swarm invasion.
“Spring-bred adult groups and swarms continue to appear along the Indo-Pakistan border, many of which have continued further east into several states of northern India because the monsoon rains have not yet arrived in Rajasthan. These infestations are expected to return to Rajasthan with the onset of the rains to rapidly mature and lay eggs. Control operations continue in both countries,” it said.
ThePrint had reported 12 June that despite the retreat of a major part of the locust swarms towards Rajasthan, many states are on alert for attacks in the coming weeks. Authorities also fear intense breeding of locust amid predictions of an above-normal monsoon this year across the country.
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