Swarms of locusts have entered a forest area in Chhattisgarh's Koriya district from the neighbouring Madhya Pradesh state, prompting authorities to intensify efforts to tackle the menace, officials said on Monday. So far, no damage to crops or trees has been reported due to these short-horned grasshoppers, which have been killed or driven away by spraying of pesticides, they said.
"On Sunday, locusts entered a forest area near Maniktarai and Jwaritola villages under Bharatpur development block of Koriya, from Sidhi district of Madhya Pradesh. It was a small group which entered only around 300 metres inside the jurisdiction of Chhattisgarh, state agriculture department's additional director M S Kerketta told PTI.
All the departments concerned, which were already monitoring the movement of pests, immediately swung into action and sprayed chemicals through fire brigade vehicles following which most of the insects died or flew away, the official said.
"There has been no damage to crops as it is a forest area. So far, even trees in the forest area have not been damaged," he said.
Teams of officials from agriculture, horticulture, forest and revenue departments have been constituted in every district to tackle the attack of locusts, he said.
Routine monitoring is being carried out in districts which share borders with Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, Kerketta said.
This is the first such invasion by locusts in last 58 years in the area. In 1962, locusts entered Surguja area (in erstwhile Madhya Pardesh), located in northern part of the state," he said.
The Central Integrated Pest Management Centre last week asked the state agriculture department to alert officials and farmers about these insects and take precautionary measures, another official said.
Farmers have been advised to take steps to protect their crops and trees. Tractor-mounted sprayers have been arranged in all bordering districts, he said.
Besides, villagers have also been advised to form groups and make noise by beating 'thalis' (steel plates), tin boxes and loud sound-producing instruments to drive away the insects, the official added.