A swarm of locusts that was supposed to hit Delhi have been diverted due to a change in wind direction. However, the threat still looms as new swarms continue to throng India from across the Pakistan border.
The tropical grasshoppers are headed towards Madhya Pradesh, according to a senior official from India's Locust Control Organisation (LCO). The official added that the LCO along with state agriculture department officials and farming communities are trying to ascertain the locusts' movement for the next day.
As several states in North-India grapple to keep large swarms at bay, the government has deployed advanced sprayers, drones, and tractors to prevent acres of crop fields from getting damaged due to the locust attack.
The locusts first attacked Rajasthan, from where they bypassed Delhi and are likely to hit Madhya Pradesh and are expected to affect Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Maharashtra as well. The Locust Warning Office (LWO) has also issued high alerts for the states of Haryana and Punjab where the swarm is likely to enter.
The Centre has joined hands with Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and other states to check the locust menace.
The LCO has been fighting the locust challenge for over two weeks now as India is facing the locust movement of such magnitude after nearly 3 decades.
The LCO official said that this usually happens around July but this time it is a month early and luckily there are no standing crops as all of them have been harvested already.
The trigger for such a large locust movement is due to the large-scale breeding of these tropical grasshoppers in areas like Pakistan, Iran and Baluchistan.
Locusts can move over 150 kms in a day in the direction of the wind, but during the day time, depending on the wind speed. Once they settle down on nearby vegetation by sunset, they can eat every green shoot or crop in their vicinity.