The Ministry of Home Affairs has now identified locust attacks as a natural disaster and has directed states to undertake relief operations under the State Disaster Response Fund as per established procedure and the norms for assistance.
Until now, no state government has reported distribution of relief to the farmers affected by the locust attack. Crop losses of farmers due to the attacks are now covered under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY). The yield losses are assessed through crop cutting experiments and compensation are given to insured farmers as per the provisions of the scheme.
During 2020-21, the locust incursions were reported in 10 states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Haryana and Uttarakhand, where operations were undertaken in coordination with the state governments for locust control.
The governments of Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Punjab and Bihar have not reported any crop losses. However, Rajasthan has reported crop damage of 33% and more due to locust attack in 2,234.92 hectares area in Bikaner, 140 hectares in Hanumangarh and 1,027-hectares area in Sri Ganganagar.
The Haryana government has reported below 33% crop loss in approximately 6,166 hectares area, while Madhya Pradesh has reported 10% loss in soybean crop in 4,400 hectares in Damoh district, according to a statement given in the Parliament. The Maharashtra government reported below 33% of crop loss in 805.8-hectares area in Nagpur, Bhandara, Gondiya and Amravati districts. The government of Uttarakhand also reported a loss of 2 hectares (5% loss) in Pithoragarh district.
Rajasthan has further issued instructions for surveying to estimate crop losses. The Uttar Pradesh government has also issued orders to field units for submitting the status of crop losses.
Significantly a high-level virtual meeting on Desert Locust in Southwest Asian countries was held in early March with representatives of four member countries (Afghanistan, India, Iran and Pakistan) and the Plant Protection Division of FAO, Rome participated in the meeting. Subsequently, 24 virtual meetings of technical officers of member countries have been held so far via skype for sharing of strategic information on actual status, movement and control of locust in member countries. Further, feedback from Kenya and Ethiopia about locust status in their respective countries has been received through the Ministry of External Affairs in May and June. Based on these feedbacks, strategies were chalked out for locust preparedness and control.
Accordingly, the pest attack has been notified as a natural disaster by the Ministry of Home Affairs and States can undertake relief operations under the State Disaster Response Fund as per established procedure and the norms for assistance. The ministry has included admissibility of hiring of vehicles, tractors with spray equipment for spraying of plant protection chemicals for pest control; hiring of water tankers; and purchase of plant protection chemicals for locust control under new norms of assistance under State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF). This has also facilitated the state in its locust control operations.
Under submission on Agriculture Mechanization assistance of Rs 2.86 crore for 800 tractors mounted spray equipment was sanctioned to Rajasthan. Under RKVY sanction of Rs 14 crore for the hiring of vehicles, tractors and for purchase of pesticides has also been issued. Gujarat has been sanctioned Rs 1.80 crore under RKVY for capacity enhancement for locust control.