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December 3, 2019

CM releases Rs10m to launch aerial spray in desert areas to kill locusts


December 3, 2019

The Sindh government will use three aircrafts to carry out spray in desert areas in a bid to get rid of locusts which are damaging crops.

In meeting held on Monday, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah decided to provide Rs10 million to the federal plant protection department as a bridge financing arrangement to arrange three aircrafts, fuel and pesticides to launch aerial spray in desert areas which are habitats of the species. The meeting was held at the CM House and it was attended by ministers and bureaucrats.

The chief minister said the attacks of locust swarms had caused serious damage to crops in 11 districts. He criticised the federal government‘s plant protection department for its negligence in carrying out “timely spray” which could have save crops.

The CM directed the provincial agriculture department to conduct survey of the damage caused to the crops.

While briefing the meeting, agriculture minister Ismail Rahu said the emergence of desert locusts, which had come from India, was first reported in Nara desert of Khairpur on May 13 this year.

Due to a prolonged monsoon season, he said, desert locusts laid eggs and now they had emerged in desert areas which could cause a great threat to crops.

The chief minister was told that locust swarms were in a transition state in many districts. It was pointed out that the federal plant protection department was informed to launch a locust control operation in Nara Desert. Despite the beginning of the anti-locus drive, the federal plant protection department could not conduct it properly due to financial problems and other issues.

The chief minister was told that the worst affected areas were Sallehpat in Sukkur, Nara Desert in Khairpur, Ghotki desert and Thar desert areas such as Chhachro, Dahili, Nagarparkar and Islamkot, Acchro Thar, Sanghar, Desert area in Umerkot, Gongo Thar in Taluka Daur of Shaheed Benazirabad.

The agriculture minister said his department had conducted a spray drive in 247, 297 acres of different affected areas. The drive was conducted from the funds of Rs319.695 million which the chief minister had provided to the deputy commissioners, he told the meeting.

Responding to a chief minister’s question about the availability of aircrafts, the federal plant protection department’s DG said they had one helicopter in Sindh but it had some fuel and pesticide shortage issues.

He said they could arrange three helicopters if the issues of their funds were resolved. The DG also vowed to arrange two more helicopters if fuel and pesticides were arranged.

Subsequently, the chief minister directed finance secretary Hassan Naqvi to immediately release Rs10 million to the federal government’s plant protection department so that it could start the operation along with the provincial agriculture department.

Shah said lands had been prepared for wheat cultivation and seedling will appear by the end of this month. “If this situation remains persistent then the entire crop will be eaten away by locust swarms,” he said.

The CM ordered the relevant officials to start the operation within next four days. He also directed the chief secretary to monitor the operation against locusts in desert areas and develop a close coordination among district administrations, the agriculture department and the federal plant protection department.