Locust swarm 250 km away from Jharkhand, say officials; issue alert

With the swarm of desert locusts having entered neighbouring Chhattisgarh, the Jharkhand agriculture department has issued alert across all 24 districts in the state and has set up state, district and block level task forces to deal with the impending threat.

Jharkhand agriculture secretary Abu Bakar Siddique said, “We have issued alert for all 24 districts of Jharkhand. The districts sharing border with Chattisgarh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have been asked to be more vigilant.”

Siddique said though there was no immediate threat to Jharkhand, they have constituted state, district and block level task force to deal with it in case of locust invasion.

Jharkhand’s bordering districts with Chhattisgarh and Bihar, including Garhwa, Latehar, Gumla, Deoghar, Chatra, Giridih and Godda are stated to be more vulnerable.

Several districts have issued guidelines in light of the alert from the state agriculture department. Garhwa was the first district to issue guideline on locust.

Garhwa agriculture officer Laxman Oraon said, “The swarm of locusts has entered Chattishgarh and the swarm is estimated 250 kilometre away from Jharkhand. Since the swarm could travel up to 200 kilometre in a day, we have taken all precautionary measures to deal with the situation.”

Oraon said it was not necessary that Jharkhand would be invaded by the locust swarm. “The movement of locusts depends upon the wind pattern. However, we are concerned about the way the locust swarm is moving,” he said.

Senior agriculture scientist and head of Krishi Vikas Kendra (KVK), Deoghar, PK Sannigrahi said, “The locust swarm has invaded several districts of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh. It might enter Bihar and other Jharkhand bordering state now. We are hoping it would not reach Jharkhand. But, we should be alert, as we know its movement depends upon the wind pattern.”

He said a swarm comprises around 1.5 crore to 2 crore locusts and it could travel up to 200 kilometre depending upon the speed of the wind and could eat out food of 35,000 people.

The Deoghar district had issued detailed guidelines on Saturday and a toll-free number 18001801551 to help farmers in case of locust invasion. In the guideline, details about pesticides to be used to keep the locusts away and their quantity have been mentioned. The guideline asked the farmers to arrange fire and crackers and use them if they face locust attack.

Last month, Jharkhand’s Lohardaga forest division had conducted a study and predicted possible locust attack in the state, which, the divisional officials said, could pose a threat to vegetation in forests as well as farm fields.

The division, in its study, found unprecedented rise in population of butterflies and locusts due to prolonged wet weath

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