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Bihar presses panic buttons as locust swarms found barely 200 km away

Apprehending possible raids by the locusts, the agriculture department has asked the officials to make night stay in villages along the border and arrange for adequate amounts of pesticides to be sprayed on them.

Statesman News Service | Patna |

With the swarm of locusts found barely 200 km away from Bihar’s western border, agriculture department authorities have pressed panic buttons to save the areas from the insects’ attacks. As many as 10 districts located along this border face threats from the locusts which were last seen in Prayagraj in UP that shares border with Bihar.

Apprehending possible raids by the locusts, the agriculture department has asked the officials to make night stay in villages along the border and arrange for adequate amounts of pesticides to be sprayed on them. The authorities have also ordered the shops selling pesticides to be ready with adequate stocks of pesticides and supply them at a short notice even during night.

Deputy director of plant protection at the agriculture department Sunil Kumar Ajay said they have made all arrangements at their own level and mobilised resources to fight off the possible raids by locusts yet they are very much on alert as the enemy too is very powerful.

“We have made all our arrangements but you must know that we have to fight with a huge army of locusts which are so near to us. So, we have alerted everyone in the areas—our officials, farmers and the panchayat officials,” Ajay said. “Samajhiye ki ek badi sena ke saath ladai hai (You should simply understand that we have to fight a big army),” he said adding a single swarm of locusts contains up to 5-6 crores adults in one kilometre and travels very fast.

The officials have also trained the villagers about how to counter the locusts and have asked them to get ready with drums, nakers, plates, tin plates, conch shells, loudspeakers, DJ sets, tractors and any instruments that emit loud noises. The reason behind it, the officials said, is that the noises annoy the locusts and they instantly leave the areas. The authorities also conducted mock drills in the 10 border districts as to how to create sounds and spray pesticides using fire brigades and tractor-fitted mounted sprayers during emergency .

Agriculture officials describe locusts as huge threats to Bihar farmers as they can eat away the leaves just within 20 minutes. According to them, they normally fly between 11 PM to 4 AM and, hence the agriculture officials have been asked to make night stay in villages close to the border and launch counter attacks promptly. The ten districts under threat are Kaimur, Rohtas, Buxur, Bhojpur, Gaya, Aurangabad, Saran, Siwan, Gopalganj and West Champaran.