After a few weeks of hiatus, a fresh locust invasion has swooped through the skyscrapers, metro stations and grounds of Gurugram near New Delhi.
Meanwhile, panic-stricken states are gearing up to fend off the menace with drones, helicopters, tractors and fire engines.
India’s worst-affected state Rajasthan has decided to deploy helicopters to spray chemicals onto the crop-eating locust swarms.
According to reports, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar will launch the choppers on Tuesday.
A helicopter loaded with spray equipment has the capacity to carry 250 litres of insecticide in one trip which can cover 25-50-hectares in one flight. The mission would cost $165,533 for a minimum guarantee of 100 hours in 60 days cover a 25-50-hectare area in one flight.
Strong winds have dispersed the locust swarms farther into India, blowing the fresh waves in the farming belt - Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, posing a threat to crops in these regions as farmers start sowing after the monsoon rainfall. The swarms comprising thousands of insects can eat as much food as 35,000 people would and travel more than 100 miles in a single day.
Authorities in Agra, the city of Taj Mahal, claimed that 60% of the locust has been already killed with the help of insecticide-spraying drones.
Morning time , locust attack agra pic.twitter.com/4Sp7iml87b— jittu (@JITENDRASAXENA7) June 30, 2020
The Ministry of Civil Aviation has also sanctioned a proposal for flying engine-operated drones at night to target the locusts while they are resting on treetops in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
“This is the first such instance in India…Night operations are more effective since the locust are literally caught napping then. Good to see the growing use cases for drones in the agriculture sector,” Amber Dubey, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, said.