Lobsters enter the farms of Punjab, eliminated in a 13-hour night operation

BATHINDA: A locust swarm, which is 3 km wide and 1 km long, entered Punjab on Sunday night, which caused the state government to carry out a 13-hour operation of several departments , to control the plague.

The insect had been ravaging fields in neighboring Rajasthan and Pakistan. Although some flying insects were detected throughout the region for many days, this was the first time they entered Punjab in such a large number. The swarm flew to the Bakenwala and Roopnagar villages of Fazilka, which are located near Rajasthan and Pakistan borders, after which concerned farmers approached the state's department of agriculture.

Dead insects on the ground

Top officials of the agriculture department on Monday claimed that the swarm could not cause any loss to crops and the threat had been neutralised. The agriculture department conducted the operation by involving officials from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Border Security Force (BSF), fire department, police, civil administration, horticulture and farmers. “About 400-500 tonnes of insecticides were used to eliminate locusts,” Punjab agriculture department director Sawtantar Kumar Airi said, adding that locusts came from the Pakistan side.

The additional chief secretary of Punjab (agriculture), Viswajit Khanna, said he made sure that the entire locust swarm was removed. “Boomer sprayers, tractor-mounted high-speed sprayers and a fire department vehicle were used to control lobsters. The operation concluded with the total elimination of the locust swarm, ”he said.

Farmer Joginder Singh of Roopnagar said they first saw a large number of lobsters in the trees at night. Although several lobsters have been killed, we are concerned that more swarms will enter our villages and damage crops, he said.

Punjab's secretary of agriculture, Kahan Singh Pannu, said all state machinery was put into motion after they learned of the locust swarm entering Roopnagar. “When we obtained the information, we held a meeting with officials in Chandigarh around 9 p.m. and we sound on maximum alert. We owe all officers involved in emergency service. The director and the joint director of agriculture were immediately sent to Abohar. The deputy commissioner of Fazilka was alerted. He held a meeting of all stakeholders at the district level at 11pm. The joint operation coordinated at the state level began at 10 pm on Sunday and continued until 9 am on Monday, ”he said.

Even when officials said they were ready for any situation, the farmers remained worried. One of them, Mukhtiar Singh, said they were unable to withstand crop damage. The state government must make arrangements to control the lobsters, he added.