India Facing Threat from Locust; The Swarm May Damage Horticultural Crops in Some States
After wreaking havoc in East Africa, the locust plagues or swarm has moved into India through Pakistan. The swarm has breached Rajasthan and has reached Madhya Pradesh and some parts of Maharashtra. As per Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, several successive waves of invasions can be expected until July in Rajasthan with eastward surges across northern India as far as Bihar and Orissa followed by westward movements and a return to Rajasthan on the changing winds associated with the monsoon. These movements will cease as swarms begin to breed and become less mobile. Swarms are less likely to reach south India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, the FAO says.
 
In Mumbai, many people are panicking with the thought of locust attack inside the city. Some even took to social media to post images of a single insect. However, the locust outbreak that is in progress, comes not as single creature, but as a swarm. Usually, before the monsoon rains, several insects and grasshoppers can be seen in Mumbai. Also, there is no word from the state government or BrihanMumbai Municipal Corp (BMC) about a possible locust attack. Without official confirmation it would be difficult to say if Mumbai faces any threat from locust. 
 
According to FAO's Locust Watch, warms are forming in the spring breeding areas and migrating east to the India-Pakistan border ahead of the monsoon rains. "Spring-bred immature adult groups and swarms that arrived in Rajasthan from the west continued to move east in the eastern portion of the state and to the central states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. As of 26 May 2020, at least one swarm had reached the northeast of Bhopal. 
 
In a tweet, Parveen Kaswan, an officer from the Indian Forest Services (IFS) says, this time the desert locust attack is severe. "They have arrived earlier, in huge numbers and now reached till Panna in MP," he says. 
 
 
 
While the swarm is moving fast, it may not damage much crop in India, feels Suman Chowdhury, chief analytical officer of Acuité Ratings & Research. “The current locust attack in some of the western and northern states may not have any immediate impact on the primary crops since the rabi harvest has been largely completed and the sowing for kharif is yet to commence fully.
 
However, there may be a moderate damage to the horticultural crops in some of the states. There can be an impact on the production of kharif crops such as cotton and pulses if the pest attack is not controlled effectively over the next few months with the onset of monsoon,” he says.
 
 
Meanwhile, to deal with the attack of locusts in the national capital, the Delhi government has issued an advisory for spraying pesticides. The circular was issued in order to prevent a probable attack in Delhi by a swarm of locusts, which are reportedly present in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
 
"All concerned authorities are hereby advised to take preventive measures to control and eradicate the locusts to avoid devastating effect on standing agricultural and horticultural crops, vegetation, plants, gardens, orchard etc. in Delhi," the circular says.
 
Separately, the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has set up a disaster relief team, headed by the deputy director, agriculture directorate, to deal with locust attacks in various parts of the state.
 
Dr Navin Kumar Singh of the Krishi Vigyan Kendra said that locust movement is determined by the direction of the wind. "Locusts have entered Uttar Pradesh from Jhansi in Bundelkhand region after devouring green crops in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The locust movement usually takes place late evening and they eat up the crops at night before moving out the following day," he said.
 
District Magistrates of districts on the Uttar Pradesh-Madhya Pradesh border, in particular, have been asked to remain vigilant and prepared for the locust attacks since the swarm has already made it presence felt in the Jhansi district.
 
Farmers have been asked to spray pesticides in their farmlands and also play loud music since locusts are said to turn away if they hear loud music.
 
Earlier, the FAO had said it has supported governments in scaling up control activities and is launching an urgent appeal to support ten countries to contain the desert locust upsurge and anticipate devastating impacts on livelihoods and food security.
 
 
QU Dongyu, director-general of FAO says, heavy rains have created ideal conditions for desert locusts' reproduction in several countries. "Our gains have been significant, but the battle is long and is spreading to new areas" Dongyu has warned.
 
Last week, the FAO had mentioned in its bulletin that spring breeding was continuing in southern Iran and southwest Pakistan where control operations are in progress against hopper groups and bands as well as an increasing number of adult groups. 
 
"As vegetation dries out, more groups and swarms will form and move from these areas to the summer breeding areas along both sides of the India-Pakistan border as several waves from now until at least early July. Good rains are predicted during the first half of June along the Indo-Pakistan border that would allow egg-laying to occur. This should reduce the further eastward movement of swarms that have already arrived in Rajasthan in India," FAO had said in its 21st May bulletin
 
 
As per FAO, desert locust is always present somewhere in the deserts between Mauritania and India. If there is good rain fall and green vegetation develops, Desert Locust can rapidly increase in number and within a month or two, start to concentrate and, unless checked, can lead to the formation of small groups or bands of wingless hoppers and small groups or swarms winged adults. This is called an OUTBREAK and usually occurs with an area of about 5,000 sq. km (100kms by 50kms) in one part of a country.
 
If an outbreak or contemporaneous outbreaks are not controlled and if widespread or unusually heavy rains fall in adjacent areas, several successive seasons of breeding can occur that causes further hopper band and adult swarm formation. This is called an UPSURGE and generally affects an entire region.
 
If an upsurge is not controlled and ecological conditions remain favourable for breeding, locust populations continue to increase in number and size, and the majority of the infestations occur as bands and swarms, then a PLAGUE can develop. A major plague exists when two or more regions are affected simultaneously.
 
Outbreaks commonly occur and only a few leads to upsurges. Similarly, few upsurges lead to plagues. The last major plague was in 1987-89 and the last major upsurge was in 2003-05. Upsurges and plagues do not occur over night; instead they take many months to develop, the FAO says.
 
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    Supreme Court Asks Government Not To Charge Fare from Migrants & Provide Shelter to People Found Walking

    The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered that migrant workers should not be charged any fare, either for rail or road transport, while travelling back to their homes. The apex court also asked the state governments and Union territories (UTs) to provide food, shelter and water to migrant workers, and also to those found walking back to their homes.
     
    A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan and comprising Justices SK Kaul and MR Shah asked the state governments to arrange for food, shelter and water for the migrants waiting for their turn to board either bus or train to return to their homes.

    "We believe that the centre and state governments require to be given some time to bring the steps taken by them on record. At present, looking at the miseries of the migrant workers, we are of the view that some interim directions need to be issued," the bench says.

    The top court said that it is worried over the series of difficulties faced by the migrant workers while attempting to reach their home states. Though the states and UTs have taken measures, there are some glaring lapses in the overall process to provide relief to the migrant workers, it noted.
     
    It directed the concerned state, where the journey originates, to provide food and water at the railway station, and during the journey, the railways should provide meals and water to them.
     
    "The state shall oversee the registration of migrant workers. It should ensure that after registration, migrant workers are made to board the train or bus at an early date and complete information should be publicised to all concerned," the bench says.

    The apex court also directed the Union government to place on record information regarding number of migrants awaiting transportation to their native places, plan for transportation and mechanism of registration and other requisite details.

    Migrant workers found walking on the roads should be immediately taken to shelters and provided food and all other basic facilities, the bench added.
     
    Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, representing the centre, contended before the bench that it is already being done, and the direction from the court may encourage people to move. Mr Mehta requested the bench that "We need 10 days to reply. All officials are doing a lot of work."
     
    The top court ordered that replies should be filed by 5 June 2020.

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    COMMENTS

    deepak.narain

    1 month ago

    Government faulted from the beginning itself. Initially, there were only a few hundred cases of Corona positive. Instead of locking the whole country, govt should have locked down only the areas where infected people were located. They should also have locked down completely the Nizamuddin area where infected persons had collected and later moved out to infect others throughout the country. They should not have been allowed to travel out. Government should have visualized that wholesale lock down will cause labour problems. Instead of leaving them in the lurch, proper arrangements should have been made for their stay and livelihood so that they could survive. Devoid of any help, they started walking home on foot and many died on the way. Instead, govt should have facilitated by making buses and trains available without charging anything. When most of them have now reached home, their erstwhile employers are sitting idle with nobody to run their machines. Now, govt has made a special provision of Rs 20 lakh crores for facing the difficult position. This money must be used for rehabilitation of the poor workers at home and for returning for work.

    ramchandranashok

    1 month ago

    The miserable state of the migrants has been brought about by the Government's unplanned lockdown without an inkling to anyone. Such secret planning if it can be said so, was uncalled for & hence it becomes the bounden duty of the Govt to take responsibility for such actions & set matters right

    SC on Migrant Workers' Crisis: Steps Taken, but There Are Lapses
    The Supreme Court on Tuesday took suo motu cognizance of problems of migrant labourers who were stranded in different parts of the country during the nation-wide lock-down to contain COVID-19 outbreak.
     
    The Supreme Court said the media reports have been continuously showing the unfortunate and miserable conditions of migrant labourers walking on foot or cycling for long distances.
     
    "Although the government of India and state governments have taken measures, there have been inadequacies and certain lapses. We are of the view that effective concentrated efforts are required to redeem the situation", said a bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, S.K. Kaul and MR Shah. 
     
    The bench posted the matter for hearing on May 28, and asked the Registry to serve a copy to the solicitor general Tushar Mehta, as well states and Union Territories. The cognizance has been taken after several petitions were filed in the top court highlighting the plight of migrant workers during the COVID-19 crisis.
     
    "In the present situation of lockdown in the entire country, this section of society needs succor and help by governments, especially steps need to be taken by the government of India, state governments/Union Territories in this difficult situation to extend helping hand to these migrant labourers," said the top court.
     
    The top court said it has also received several letters and representations from different sections of society highlighting the problem of migrant labourers. "The crisis of migrant labourers is even continuing today with large sections still stranded on roads, highways, railway stations and state borders", said the bench. 
     
    The adequate transport arrangement, food and shelters are immediately to be provided by the Centre and State Governments free of costs, added the bench.
     
    "They (migrants) have also been complaining about not being provided food and water by the administration at places where they were stranded or on the way i.e. highways from which they proceeded on foot, cycles or other modes of transport," said the apex court.
     
    Issuing notice to the Centre and all states/Union Territories, the top court asked them to submit their responses looking into the urgency of the matter.
     
    "We direct the suo motu petition to be taken up day after tomorrow and we request the learned Solicitor General to assist the court, and by the next date of hearing, bring to the notice of the court all measures and steps taken or to be by the government of India in this regard", said the bench.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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