Pakistan Declares National Emergency Over Locust Attacking Crops; India’s Punjab  Eliminates Threat In 13 Hours Locust (Picture: Wikipedia)

As swarm of locusts, measuring 3 kilometres (km) in width and 1km in length, entered Punjab through Fazilka district on Sunday (2 February) night, a nightlong 13-hour, multi-department operation was launched by the state government to control the pest, reports Times Of India.

The insects had already ravaged fields in the neighbouring state of Rajasthan and in Pakistan a state of national emergency has been declared as locusts have destroyed crops on a large scale in the Punjab province of Pakistan.

The entire state machinery of Indian state of Punjab was swung into action and all stakeholders held a meeting with officials in Chandigarh as officers was deputed on emergency duty. Officials of state agriculture department on Monday claimed, these locusts could not cause any loss to crops and the threat had been neutralised.

Authorities have been very vigilant and few flying insects were being spotted across the region days ago, but this was the first time so many locust entered Punjab in such a huge number. The swarm flew into Bakenwala and Roopnagar villages of Fazilka, which are situated near Rajasthan and Pakistan borders.

Officials from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Border Security Force (BSF), fire department, police, civil administration, horticulture, and farmers took part in this operation and Punjab agriculture department director Sawtantar Kumar Airi said, “About 400-500 tonnes of insecticides were used to eliminate locusts.” Airi further added that locusts came from the Pakistan side.

Punjab additional chief secretary (agriculture) Viswajit Khanna said, “Boomer sprayers, tractor-mounted high-velocity sprayers and a fire department vehicle were used to control the locusts. The operation was concluded with completely wiping out the locust swarm.”

Pakistan’s decision of declaring national emergency was taken at a meeting on Friday convened by Prime Minister Imran Khan, reported Dawn news.

The meeting attended by federal ministers and senior officials of the four provinces also approved a national action plan (NAP) that requires a sum of 7.3 billion Pakistani rupees to overcome the crisis.

The locust attack was first spotted in the country in March 2019 and its swarms later spread over 900,000 hectares in Sindh, South Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, damaging standing crops and trees worth millions of rupees, reports The Express Tribune.

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