The government on Monday said it has placed an import order for five atomizer kits with GPS tracker from the UK that will be fitted into helicopters for aerial spray of pesticides to control the crop-threatening locust swarms in northern India.
Of the five, two kits will be available in September and the remaining three kits after one month of their successful testing, it said in a statement.
"These kits will be fitted into helicopters of the Indian Air Force (as agreed by them) and will be used for air operations for control of desert locusts," the agriculture ministry said.
Stepping up efforts to control locust swarms, the government has already imported 15 sprayers from the UK-based company Micron for locust control. The government had placed an order for 60 sprayers. The remaining equipment is also scheduled in due course, it said.
The supply order has also been issued for purchase of 55 additional vehicles to strengthen the control capacity. Out of these, 33 vehicles have been delivered and deployed in locust control operations, it added.
Apart from tractors and fire brigade vehicles, the government said even drones are being explored for effective control of locusts in inaccessible areas and on top of tall trees.
Already five companies have started work in Barmer, Jaisalmer, Phalodi, Bikaner and Nagaur areas, and so far 12 drones have been deployed, it said.
So far, the government said it took measures to control locust swarms in 1.14 lakh hectare area in seven states so far, out of which the control operation is in full swing mainly in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
The locust swarms, the crop-threatening migratory pest, were reported in Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Two locust swarms from the India-Pakistan border areas are reported, one each in Bikaner and Sriganganagar district, Rajasthan. And, the control operation is going on against these swarms, it said.
About 62 spray equipment are being used for the control of locust swarms, while 200 employees of the Locust Warning Organisation (LWO) are deployed for survey and control work, it said.
A control room has been established in all 10 locust circle offices and also at LWO, Jodhpur. Even beyond the Scheduled Desert Area, temporary base camps are set up, at Jaipur, Ajmer, Dausa and Chittorgarh in Rajasthan; Shivpuri in Madhya Pradesh; and at Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, for effective control of desert locust, it said.
According to the ministry, the swarms of immature pink locusts with intermittent population of maturing yellow adults are currently active in Jaisalmer, Barmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Sri Ganganagar, Jaipur, Nagaur, and Ajmer districts of Rajasthan, Panna district of Madhya Pradesh and Lalitpur district of Uttar Pradesh.
"The immature locust is active and mobile, making it difficult to control the swarm at one location, due to which it takes four to five days to control at different locations to completely eliminate the locust population in one place. The yellow, mature adults appear tending to copulate in some areas," it said.
The situation is monitored constantly by higher authorities and needful is being done on priority basis, it added.