The Delhi government on Saturday put all districts on high alert after swarms of locusts entered Gurugram and some border areas of the national Capital, PTI reported. It asked the district magistrates to coordinate with the fire department and spray pesticides and insecticides on crops to protect them from possible infestation.
In an advisory, issued by the Delhi development commissioner, residents were told to distract the locusts by beating drums and utensils, bursting firecrackers, playing music on high volume and burning neem leaves. It further instructed people to stay indoors and cover their outdoor plants with plastic sheets.
It said that since swarms of locusts usually fly in daytime, they should not be allowed to rest during night time. “Night spray of malathion or chlorpyrifos is useful [for dispersing them],” the advisory added. “Personal Protection Equipment kits may be used while spraying for safety.”
The advisory was issued after Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai chaired an emergency meeting of senior officials, where he was informed that swarms have also reached the Asola Bhatti area in South Delhi. The development secretary, divisional commissioner; director, agriculture department and district magistrates of South Delhi and West Delhi were also present.
Rai asked officials of the agriculture department to make field visits to areas close to Gurugram for surveillance.
However, the Union Agriculture Ministry’s Locust Warning Organisation said the wind conditions are not favourable for the fast-spreading swarms to hit the Capital, according to The Indian Express.
Earlier in the day, videos shared on social media showed massive clusters of locusts flying in Cyber Hub, MG Road and DLF Phase 1 and 2. On Friday, the Gurugram district administration had issued a warning to the residents to keep their windows shut and to make loud noise by banging utensils to ward off the insects.
“Two groups had entered the city from Jhajjar [district],” said Atmaram Godara, deputy director of Agriculture in Gurugram. “One is heading towards Delhi from the railway station and sector 4 to 5. The other group is heading from the direction of Kherki Daula toll plaza towards Delhi.”
He added that there has been no crop damage so far as the swarms did not come down to the fields.
LWO Deputy Director KL Gurjar said locusts are currently flying over Gurugram and the southern border areas of Delhi. “It would move towards Faridabad and then enter Uttar Pradesh through Palwal,” he said.
A resident of Gurugram told NDTV that the locust attack started at 11 am. “We immediately closed the windows and doors, and the society administration started bellowing hooters installed on buildings to drive away the insects,” said Rita Sharma, a resident of Beverly Park 2 at MG Road in Gurugram.
The Faridabad administration also issued a warning against the locust attack. “The locust swarm has reached Gurugram and there is a possibility of them coming towards Faridabad as well,” Deputy Commissioner Yashpal Yadav said. “All arrangements have been made. The residents should be cautious and reach their fields and help to fight this.”
In May, India stepped up its response after the country’s worst locust attack in decades. The swarms hit Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab after destroying crops in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana.
Earlier this month, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization said that the locust threat will continue in India till July and at least seven states are likely to battle the infestation. Experts have warned of extensive crop losses if authorities fail to contain the swarms by this month.
Normally, with the arrival of the monsoon, locust swarms enter the desert areas of India via Pakistan for breeding in June-July, but this year pink adult swarms were reported as early as April 30 in Rajasthan and Punjab. This happened because of the uncontrolled swarms in Pakistan that breed continuously, according to the agriculture ministry.