New Delhi: As the locust menace has spread to several states, including Maharashtra, Punjab and UP at this time of corona crisis, the Central government on Wednesday stepped up efforts to control the crop-damaging migratory pests. The Union Agriculture Ministry on Wednesday said the Centre is planning to deploy drones to spray pesticides on the locusts.Also Read - From Beating Utensils to Playing Loudspeakers, Here's How Farmers Are Scaring Away Locusts | Watch

As per updates, about 21 districts in Rajasthan, 18 districts in Madhya Pradesh, 2 districts in Gujarat and 1 district in Punjab have undertaken locust control measures till now. Also Read - Swarm of Locusts Could Head Towards Delhi if Situation Favours; Uttar Pradesh on High Alert  

Issuing a statement, the agriculture ministry said that the locust attack has been controlled in 47,308-hectare areas so far in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh. Also Read - After Rajasthan, Locusts Enter Maharashtra, Delhi - Why is This a Worrying Situation?

Moreover, the Centre has placed an order to purchase 60 spraying machines from UK-based company Micron, and two firms have been finalised for the supply of drones for aerial spraying of insecticides for effective control over tall trees and inaccessible areas.

“Usually, the locust swarms enter the scheduled desert area of India through Pakistan for summer breeding in the month of June/July with the advent of monsoon. This year, however, incursions of locust hoppers and pink swarms have been reported much earlier because of the presence of a residual population of locust in Pakistan which they couldn’t control last season,” the ministry said in a statement.

It further stated that the incursions of locust hoppers have been reported since April 11 and that of pink immature adults since April 30 in bordering districts of Rajasthan and Punjab, which are being controlled so far.

Saying that the control operations are in full swing in various states, the ministry said so far locusts have been controlled in 47,308-hectare area in total 303 places in Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh by Locust Control Officers in coordination with district administration and state agriculture department.

The ministry, however, said there are active swarms of immature locust in 8 districts in Rajasthan (Barmer, Jodhpur, Nagaur, Bikaner, Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Sikar and Jaipur) and 7 districts in Madhya Pradesh (Satna, Gwalior, Seedhi, Rajgarh, Baitul, Devas, Agar Malwa).

As part of the locust control measure, the Central government has deployed 89 fire brigades for pesticide spray, 120 survey vehicles, 47 control vehicles with spray equipment and 810 tractor-mounted sprayers.

Besides, temporary control camps have been established in Ajmer, Chittorgarh, Dausa in Rajasthan; Mandsaur, Ujjain, Shivpuri in Madhya Pradesh and Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh for effective control of locusts beyond scheduled desert areas.

At present, the Locust Control Offices have 21 Micronair and 26 Ulvamast spray machines which are being utilised for locust control.

The Central government has also issued advisories to Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab regarding the locust attack and necessary measures to be taken for effective control and pesticides that are to be used for effective locust control in cropped areas.