30 June 2020, New Delhi: A Bell Helicopter with spray equipment was flagged off for Locust control operations from a helipad facility at Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh today by Union Agriculture Minister Mr. Narendra Singh Tomar.
The helicopter has been deployed for locust control in desert areas of Barmer, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Jodhpur and Nagaur. The Bell 206-B3 helicopter will have single pilot operation, has a pesticide carrying capacity of 250 litres in one trip and can cover about 25 to 50 hectare area in one flight. An Empowered Committee cleared the decision on deploying helicopter for aerial spray in desert area after getting all the clearances from DGCA and Ministry of Civil Aviation.
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Mr. Narendra Singh Tomar said that these consecutive locust attacks have happened after a long gap of 26 years. It was estimated that this year would see a higher incidences of locust attack. The Government is prepared and all the State Governments have been alerted and are working in close coordination with the Centre.
Deployment of machines, vehicles and manpower has been increased and concerned states are utilizing SDRF funds to tackle the problem. Drones have been used for the first time for locust control and today aerial spraying of insecticides with the use of helicopter has also been launched.
The deployment of the helicopter for locust control operations follows the need to strengthen air control capabilities for locust control through drones, helicopters and aircrafts. Cabinet Secretary reviewed the locust situation on 27th May 2020 and directed the Ministry of Civil Aviation to assist the Department of Agriculture Cooperation & Farmers’ Welfare in facilitating the procurement of goods and services for aerial spray of pesticides through drones, aircraft/helicopter.
Till now 12 drones have been deployed for locust control in Jaisalmer, Barmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner and Nagaur. Use of Drones has added one additional dimension as it is effective for tall trees and inaccessible areas. One drone can cover 16-17 hectare area in one hour and in 4 hours it can cover upto 70 hectare area.
MoCA has further relaxed the terms and conditions of the conditional exemption granted for drone in anti-locust operations and permitted the use of engine-powered drones upto 50kg and use of drones during night times also for anti locust operations. 2,33,487 hectares have been effective treated as on 28th June 2020