JAIPUR: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding that the locust menace affecting many states of the country be declared a national disaster, according to a statement on Monday.
In the letter, Gehlot said the locust outbreak was an international problem and the Centre should coordinate will all affected countries to tackle the menace, the statement said.
The chief minister said that it would be appropriate to declare the locust menace as national disaster due to possible damage to crops of kharif and rabi crops, and the weak economic condition of farmers and states due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
It will further strengthen the capacity of states to deal with locust outbreaks, the chief minister said.
Gehlot informed Modi that locusts had started coming in Rajasthan from April 11 and 32 out of the 33 districts had been affected.
In addition to Rajasthan, locust attacks have been reported in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.
This has become a multi-state problem, he said in the letter.
Locust outbreaks have been seen on such a large scale in the country after several decades.
In such a situation, declaring this problem as a national disaster will be in the interest of all the affected states and the farmers, Gehlot said.
Locust swarms were controlled quite effectively by the joint efforts of the Centre, Locust Warning Organization and the state government, but still the farmers lost about Rs 1,000 in rabi crops, he said.
In 2019-20, about 6.70 lakh hectares in 12 districts of Rajasthan was affected by locust.
In 2020-21, locust control has been done in about 3.83 lakh hectares so far, Gehlot said.
According to the earlier estimates of the Food and Agriculture Organization, the locust outbreak arrived early in the state and is expected to be much higher this year, the statement said.
In such a situation, the Centre should take appropriate steps in time, he added.
Gehlot underlined that the locust outbreak was an international problem and they must be stopped at their point of origin in order to check the origin of new locust groups.
For this, he added, the Centre should coordinate internationally and negotiate with all locust-affected countries so that appropriate measures could be taken for effective control.