Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar on Friday held a meeting with the Ministers of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Parshottam Rupala and Kailash Choudhary and Secretary (DAC&FW) Sanjay Agarwal to review the Locust Control Operations.

Tomar said the Government is concerned about the issue and is dealing urgently with the situation. The Centre is in close touch with the affected States and an Advisory has been issued.

“15 sprayers will start arriving from Britain in the next 15 days. Besides, 45 more sprayers will be procured in a month or one-and-a-half months. Drones will be used to spray pesticides on tall trees and inaccessible places for effective control of locusts, while plans are afoot to deploy helicopters for aerial spray,” he said.

“11 Regional Control Rooms have been established and special contingents have been deployed along with additional manpower to check the spread of locusts. He assured the affected States will be allocated additional resources and financial aid if required,” he added.

During the meeting, the Secretary informed the Ministers that currently 21 micronair and 26 Ulvamast (47 spray equipment) in Locust Control Offices (LCOs) are being used for locust control and 200 officials are deployed.

Beyond scheduled desert areas, temporary control camps have also been set up at Jaipur, Chittorgarh, Dausa in Rajasthan; Sheopur, Neemuch, Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh and Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh for locust control. Locust has been controlled in an area of about 50,468 hectares in 334 locations in Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has approved “Conditional exemption to Government entity (DPPQS) for use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System for anti-locust operations.”

In accordance with this order, two firms have been finalized through tender for use of the drones for the spray of pesticides for Locust control.