New Delhi, Jan 9 (IANS) In wake of the locust swarm reaching Rajasthan from Pakistan, the Narendra Modi government has firmed up measures to deal with the incursion and a three-member team of Union Ministers will be touring the border area to take stock of the situation.

Led by Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, the team, which also includes Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Minister of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhury will inspect the border districts to gauge the extent of the damage.

Talking to IANS on Thursday, Choudhury said that his department was fully prepared to deal with the marauding insects and for this purpose, advanced machines were being sourced from Britain and this would reach affected areas in Jaisalmer and Barmer in the next three days.

“To deal with the locusts, our personnel and officials are already deployed in the border areas and are being helped by the local farmers. I and Cabinet Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Gajendra Singh Shekhawat are personally going to the affected areas on January 12 to take stock of the situation and interact with the farmers.”

Choudhury said that Prime Minister Modi was quite concerned at the situation, and had directed that all necessary measures be taken,” he added.

It is understood that the Agriculture Ministry has bought 10 Micronair machines from Britain, which will be soon employed in the affected areas. These machines have already undergone filed trials where they have been seen to be successful in dealing with the menace.

The locust swarm from across the border has wreaked havoc on crops in the border districts of Jaisalmer, Jalore and Bikaner. At first, drones were used in a bid to counter them, but given the extent of their devastation, the need for other measures was felt.

Choudhury said that the locust swarm had first descended on Gujarat, but the state government dealt with the situation on a war-footing and achieved success within two days, but claimed that Rajasthan, despite several requests, had not cooperated.

“If Rajasthan had cooperated, then the locusts could have dealt with much earlier.. … I think there should not be any politics on farmers’ issues.”

Explaining the locusts’ habits, he said that the locusts arrive in a huge swarm and the place where they are overnight, each locust lays 170 eggs and as the eggs hatch in seven days, the number keeps on increasing… Our personnel reach the chosen areas in seven days and destroy the locusts.”

The bajra (pearl millet), jeera (cumin) and isabgol (psyllium husk) crops have been most affected by the locusts, and it is here that the micronair machines will be used.

–IANS

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