While the locust attack in north Gujarat is spreading and is said to be intensifying, state BJP president with his colleagues took out rolling pins and steel plates to scare away the locust swarms in Banaskantha district on Wednesday. The affected farmers for the past 10 days have been taking different measures including making sounds using household equipment, playing loud music as well as covering their crops through sarees and bed covers for protection.
The opposition Congress termed state BJP chief Jitu Vaghani's effort as a mere "publicity gimmick" and said that instead of pushing the district authority to help farmers from the fresh crisis, the government is forcing "school teachers and students to scare away locusts."
The BJP, however, denied asking children to do it and dismissed the allegation as baseless. However, Banaskantha officials on Tuesday had issued notice to school teachers ordering them to help farmers to save their crops from locust attacks.
Vaghani and his colleagues were in north Gujarat to participate in an event in support of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Before the event, he went to Tharad in Banaskantha to check the locust attack. Officials said that for over ten days, the swarming locust has been damaging crops on a massive scale.
Locust attack is said to be worse in the past three decades in north Gujarat. According to officials, over 100 villages have been affected in Banaskantha and parts of neighbouring Sabarkantha districts. Other districts such as Mehsana and Patan are also likely to be affected. The district officials have been spraying insecticides to stop the spread.
11 teams of experts including joint director, crop protection, from central and state governments are said to have been dispatched to north Gujarat to assess the situation and take measures to minimise the damage. The team held a meeting in Banaskantha where they discussed how to control the locust attack.
In the meanwhile, the Gujarat government claimed to have distributed cheques worth Rs 3,795 crore as assistance package to farmers in eight different events held in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, among other places.