The central government has sent 11 teams to Gujarat to tackle the problem of locusts entering various districts of the state from Pakistan side and damaging crops, an official said on Thursday.
Massive swarms of locusts- which are mainly tropical grasshoppers with strong powers of flight - descended on Banaskantha, Mehsana, Kutch, Patan and Sabarkantha districts in the last few days and were destroying crops like mustard, castor, fennel, cumin, cotton, potato, wheat and jatropha.
"To tackle the menace, 11 central centres have arrived in Gujarat. They will take all necessary steps, including spraying of pesticides, to contain the attack. The teams will remain in the state until the problem is solved," a senior government official told PTI.
During his visit to Vadodara on Wednesday, Chief Minister Vijay Rupanialso said that 11 teams sent by the Centre have begun work to check the locust menace.
The state government is also exploring the possibility of using drones to spray insecticides, he said.
State Agriculture Minister R C Faldu also said that insecticides were being sprayed on crops hit by locust attack.
Farmers have been directed to deploy various measures to deal with the situation, including burning tyres in fields, playing drums and clanging utensils, switching on table fans near crops and even blaring out music from a mini truck- mounted console, an agriculture department official said.
Locusts were first seen in villages of Suigam, Danta, Deesa, Palanpur and Lakhni talukas of Banaskantha district last week, which then moved to villages in Satlasana taluka of neighbouring Mehsana district.
"These locusts entered Gujarat from the desert areas of Pakistan. This is the second time in a month when locusts have invaded our fields in north Gujarat. Local administration and the agriculture department is dealing with the situation," state Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel earlier said.
Farmers claimed the locusts swarm was happening after almost a decade.
Meanwhile, Gujarat Congress president Amit Chavda and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Paresh Dhanani said the state government's measures to contain the locust attack were inadequate.
The government should have used aircraft to spray insecticides, they said.
However, Faldu said such a method could prove dangerous or even fatal for animals who eat grass and other plants in open fields