In view of the widespread locust attack in Rajasthan, state revenue minister Harish Chaudhary on February 4, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking to declare it as a national calamity.
In his letter, Chaudhary also requested the PM Modi to bring a change in rules under the State Disaster Response Fund to provide help to affected farmers. He further sought an effective plan to find a permanent solution to the threat.
Troubled by the menace of locust attacks on crops in areas of south Punjab, bordering Rajasthan, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had on January 28 urged PM Modi to direct External Affairs ministry and the Indian High Commission in Islamabad to take immediate action on the issue with Pakistan, from where the locust attack was emanating.
In a letter to PM Modi, Captain Amarinder Singh had said there has been a continuous locust attack on crops in Rajasthan and a significant number of these pests have also entered into southern Punjab.
Pakistan, which is facing its worst locust attack in decades, has declared national emergency to tackle the insects destroying crops on a large scale in Punjab province, the country's main region for agricultural production. The decision was taken at a meeting convened by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday.
The meeting, attended by federal ministers and senior officials of the four provinces, also approved a National Action Plan (NAP) that requires a sum of Rs 7.3 billion to overcome the crisis.
Minister for National Food Security Khusro Bakhtiar informed the National Assembly about the gravity of the situation and the steps so far taken by the federal and provincial governments to deal with the crisis, the Dawn newspaper reported.
Prime Minister Khan ordered the formation of a high-level committee to be headed by Bakhtiar to take decisions at the federal level for the elimination of insects. The prime minister directed the authorities concerned to take immediate measures on the basis of damage of ripened crops.
"Protection of farms and farmers is the highest priority of the government. Therefore, the federal government should take all necessary steps to save national crops and provide required resources to the quarters concerned," Khan was quoted as saying in the report.
(With inputs from ANI)