India Photograph:( Reuters )
Authorities in Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Telangana and Karnataka have sounded alerts to the possibility of locusts entering their territories.
Swarms of locusts have been ravaging primarily five states -- Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra -- and are expected to reach a few others in the next few weeks.
To this end, authorities in Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Telangana and Karnataka have sounded alerts to the possibility of locusts entering their territories.
In addittion, the Delhi government has issued an advisory on preventive measures to control the looming locust attack in the national capital. It has asked the authorities to organise awareness among farmers, spraying of insecticide and not letting the swarms rest during the night.
The desert locust are known to devour everything in their path. They can fly up to 150 km a day and a one-square-kilometre swarm can eat as much food as 35,000 people in one day, posing an unprecedented threat to food supply and livelihoods of millions of people.
The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned that the crop-destroying insects could also reach Bihar and Odisha in the east in the coming weeks.
As the locust attack threat looms over Delhi and neighbouring states, a plea in the National Green Tribunal has also sought the implementation of the Centre's contingency plan to combat the situation.
The plea filed by an NGO said that despite having the contingency plan several states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are facing the locust swarm attack since February and the situation is getting worse in some of the areas.
Gujarat and Maharashtra have also been impacted by the swarm of millions of insects which eat up crops in the field they attack, inflicting heavy crop damage.
The plea said: "The worst affected are the farmers of the said area, thus the applicant NGO seeks urgent intervention of this tribunal and seeks direction to submit status report on the implementation of plan prepared by Directorate of Plant Protection, Quarantine and Storage, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmer Welfare, Union of India."
The contingency plan is a guidance document for Locust Field Offices, state governments and other stake holders during the attack, said the plea filed by 'Centre For Wildlife And Environmental Litigation Foundation'.
According to the plea, the plan covers assistance required from different stakeholders, their contribution and role, activities, type of strategy to be adopted, formation of teams, available resources, short falls and ways and means of obtaining additional resources, and the deployment as also the actions that need to be taken.
The plan also provides for use of aircraft with spraying kits for locust control purpose, it said. The NGO has sought constitution of committees to control the locust swarm attack within their respective states.