KARACHI: The agriculture department on Sunday said two airplanes and eight vehicles joined the Sindh government’s efforts to eliminate swarms of locust in various districts of the province.
“The plant protection department of the ministry of national food security and research has provided two aeroplanes and eight vehicles to help us in combating the locust in various districts of Sindh,” said a spokesperson for the ministry.
Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahu confirmed it, saying such a help from the federal government had been made only after the loss of several days when the locust had already played havoc in many regions of the province.
“Had the federal government acted promptly in eradicating locust in Sindh, this menace would have not headed towards Punjab and Balochistan,” he told reporters.
He said despite repeated requests made by the Sindh government the federal government had turned a deaf ear as the destruction was already too expensive for the national economy.
“Even the federal government is not too attentive towards this issue and if it continues to be oblivious towards the menace, locust swarms could head towards Islamabad and Banigala,” the minister said.
The minister said the two airplanes and eight vehicles given by the plant protection department were being used along with 23 vehicles of the provincial government to combat locusts.
He added a plane, spray machines and several vehicles were being used to combat against locusts in Umerkot district and parts of Khairpur district including Nara desert and Tajal, etc, which were gravely affected by the marauding locust swarms.
“Teams of our agriculture department are working from dawn to dusk,” he said.
Besides, he added, 55 field teams of the provincial government were engaged in manual spraying. Each team comprised of four to five employees.
Besides, Minister Rahu said 15 teams of his department were busy in a survey of the affected areas to assess the losses incurred to the economy because of locusts.
He added another airplane and several vehicles were being used to spray in the regions of Sukkur and Khairpur districts.
Earlier, Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, whose government in Sindh crosses one decade, had criticised the federal government for ignoring the cries for help to eradicate locust in Sindh.
He had said in a similar situation when his mother was the prime minister the federal government had got helicopters from the friendly countries to eradicate locusts on time.
Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah lately said the elimination of locust swarm was the responsibility of the federal government and it was not playing its role.
He said the Sindh government had provided Rs10 million to the plant protection department for purchase of pesticides for the locust.
Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2019