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IAF choppers to fight locust swarms



The government will now deploy air force helicopters to spray pesticides on locust swarms that have played havoc in several parts of the country over last few weeks.

The helicopters will be equipped with imported aerial spray machines, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said while flagging off a helicopter of a private company to be deployed for the first time for controlling locusts.

“We have ordered for five aerial spray machines from United Kingdom. They will be deployed in IAF helicopters and pressed into operation for locust control,” Tomar said.

“The helicopter will fly for Air Force Station at Uttarlai, Barmer, where it will be stationed initially and from there deployed for locust control in desert areas of Barmer, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Jodhpur and Nagaur. The Bell helicopter will have single pilot operation with pesticide carrying capacity of 250 litres in one trip. It can cover 25 to 50 hectare area in one flight,” he said.

Tomar said that no significant damage to crops has been reported due to locust attack so far.

“We are geared up to counter locusts. We have deployed teams in locust affected areas,” he said.

The government has already deployed 12 drones for locust control in the country.

“One drone can cover 16-17 hectare area in one hour and, in four hours, it can cover up to 70 hectare area. It is effective for tall trees and inaccessible areas,” said an agriculture department official.

As per the Food and Agriculture Organization’s locust status update of June 27, swarms that accumulate in northern Somalia are likely to migrate across the Indian Ocean to the summer breeding areas along the India-Pakistan border. In Pakistan, swarms have already started laying eggs in Sindh and swarms are present in the Indus Valley.

Locust control operation is being manned by 60 control teams with spray equipment mounted vehicles and more than 200 central government personnel are engaged in such operations in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the official quoted above said.


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