NEW DELHI: Amidst a wave of locust swarms sweeping across western and northwestern India, the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (DAC&FW) has stepped up locust control operations in the affected states of Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
As of Wednesday, there are active swarms of immature locust in Barmer, Jodhpur, Nagaur, Bikaner, Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Sikar, Jaipur Districts in Rajasthan and Satna, Gwalior, Seedhi, Rajgarh, Baitul, Devas, Agar Malwa district of Madhya Pradesh.
At present, 200 Locust Circle Offices (LCO) are conducting survey & control operations in close coordination with District Administration and agriculture field machinery of the affected States. Locust control operations are in full swing in coordination with State Agriculture Departments and Local Administration.
21 districts in Rajasthan, 18 districts in Madhya Pradesh, 1 district in Punjab and 2 districts in Gujarat have undertaken locust control till now.
For effective control of locusts beyond Scheduled Desert Areas, temporary control camps have been established in Ajmer, Chittorgarh and Dausa in Rajasthan; Mandsaur, Ujjain and Shivpuri in Madhya Pradesh and Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh.
Till May 26, control operations against Locusts have been done in 47,308-hectare area in total 303 places in Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh by LCOs in coordination with District Administration and State Agriculture Department.
89 fire brigades for pesticide spray; 120 survey vehicles; 47 control vehicles with spray equipment and 810 tractors mounted sprayers have been deployed for effective locust control, as per requirement during different days.
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, the incursions of locust hoppers and pink swarms have been reported much earlier because of the presence of a residual population of Locusts in Pakistan which they couldn’t control last season.
Since April 11, 2020, locust hoppers and from April 30, 2020, the incursion of pink immature adults have been reported in bordering districts of Rajasthan and Punjab, which are being controlled.
Pink immature adults fly high and cover long distances during day hours from one place to another along with the westerly winds coming from the Pakistan side. Most of these pink immature adults settle on the trees during night and mostly fly during the day.
Concerned over the early attack of locust swarms this year, the Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar chaired a meeting with the pesticide manufacturers and all related stakeholders on May 6, 2020, to review the preparedness for locust control in the affected States.
Following directions of the Agriculture Minister Shri Tomar, a video conference was conducted under the chairmanship of Secretary (DAC&FW) Shri Sanjay Agarwal was conducted on May 22, 2020, with the District Administration and District Agriculture Officers of locust-threatened districts of Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh along with the representatives of NDMA.
Locust awareness literature, SOPs, approved pesticides and awareness videos were shared with the States in the meeting. Earlier, a video conference was held on May 5, 2020, with the Principal Secretary (Agriculture) and DMs of the locust prone districts of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Punjab under the chairmanship of Secretary, DAC&FW to review the preparedness and further coordination with the locust States for taking necessary action.
On March 11, 2020 a High- Level virtual meeting on Desert Locust in South-West Asian countries was held at the office of the FAO representative in India. Representatives of four member countries (Afghanistan, India, Iran and Pakistan) and the Plant Protection Division of FAO, Rome also participated in the meeting.
The MoS (Agriculture & FW) Shri Kailash Choudhury and Secretary DAC&FW attended the meeting. It was decided to hold the virtual meetings of technical officers of member countries every Monday via Skype and nine meetings have so far been held.
Advisories have been issued to the States of 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 the cropped area.
Currently, Locust Control Offices have 21 Micronair and 26 Ulvamast (47 spray equipments) which are being utilized for locust control.
On approval of the Agriculture Minister Shri Tomar, supply order for additional 60 sprayers has been placed to M/s. Micron, United Kingdom. e-Tender has been invited for the empanelling agencies to provide services of drones for aerial spraying of insecticides for effective control over tall trees and inaccessible areas.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation has approved “Conditional exemption to Government entity (DPPQS) for use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System for anti-locust operations” on May 21, 2020, and in accordance with this order, two firms have been finalized through tender for use of the drones for the spray of pesticides for Locust control.
Meanwhile, supply order for procurement of an additional 55 vehicles has been placed to strengthen the control potential. Adequate stock of Pesticide is being maintained (53,000 litres Malathion) with Locust Control Organizations.
Under ‘Submission on Agriculture Mechanization’, assistance for 800 tractors mounted spray equipments has been sanctioned for Rajasthan costing Rs. 2.86 crores.
Also, under RKVY sanction for the hiring of vehicles, tractors and for purchase of pesticides has been issued for Rajasthan worth Rs. 14 crores.
Under RKVY sanction for purchase of vehicles, spray equipments, safety uniform, android application and training has also been issued for Gujarat at a cost of Rs. 1.80 crores.
As per FAO’s Locust Status Update of May 21, 2020, the current situation remains extremely alarming in East Africa where it is an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods.
New swarms will migrate to the summer breeding areas along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border as well as to Sudan and West Africa.
As vegetation dries out, more groups and swarms will form and move from these areas to the summer breeding areas along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border.
Good rains are predicted during the first half of June along the Indo-Pakistan border that would allow egg-laying to occur.
During 2019-20, India witnessed a massive locust attack which was successfully controlled. Starting from May 21, 2019 till 17th February 2020, a total of 4,03,488 ha area was treated and locust was controlled.
Along with this, the State Agriculture Department of Rajasthan and Gujarat coordinated Locust control in cropped areas of the State. During 2019-20, Control operations were done in 3,93,933 ha area of 11 districts of Rajasthan; 9,505 ha area in 2 districts of Gujarat and 50 ha area in 1 district of Punjab.
Senior Locust Forecasting Officer of FAO who visited India on 16-17 January 2019 also appreciated the efforts of India in Locust control.
Everyday Locust Control Organizations and District Authorities and State Agriculture Department officials with control spray vehicles of LCOs, tractor mounted with sprayers and fire tenders, are undertaking Locust control operations in early morning hours.
The immature locust is very active and their mobility makes it difficult to control the swarm at one location and it takes 4 to 5 days of control at different locations to control a particular locust swarm.
Locust is an omnivorous and migratory pest and has the ability to fly hundreds of kilometers collectively. It is a trans-border pest and attacks the crop in a large swarm.
Found in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, they inhabit some 60 countries and can cover one-fifth of Earth’s land surface.
Desert locust plagues may threaten the economic livelihood of one-tenth of the world’s human population. Swarms of locusts in the desert come to India from Africa/ Gulf/ South West Asia during the summer monsoon season and go back towards Iran, Gulf & African countries for spring breeding.
In India, more than 2 lakh square kilometers area comes under Scheduled Desert Area. Locust Warning Organization and 10 Locust Circle Offices (LCO) of Government of India are situated in Rajasthan (Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Phalodi, Barmer, Jalore, Churu, Nagaur, Suratgarh) and Gujarat (Palanpur and Bhuj) are responsible for monitoring, survey and control of Desert Locust in Scheduled Desert Area in coordination with State Governments.
BANNED: 59 Chinese Mobile Apps That Threaten India’s Sovereignty And Integrity
There have been acute concerns relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of Indians.
NEW DELHI: The government of India on Monday announced the ban of 59 Chinese apps in the country. A day later one of the most popular short video applications TikTok has been taken down from Apple App Store and also Google Play Store. The government has called the decision “a targeted move to ensure safety and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace & to safeguard interests of crores of Indian mobile/internet users“.
Electronics and IT Ministry said in a release that these apps were banned in view of the information available they are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of the country, defence of the country and security of a state and public order.
For safety, security, defence, sovereignty & integrity of India and to protect data & privacy of people of India the Government has banned 59 mobile apps.
Jai Hind! 🇮🇳
— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) June 29, 2020
Geopolitics and international relations (IR) experts believe that the move is an exercise of coercive diplomacy that has, as the starting point, opted for a low-denomination item — mobile app — that has a limited impact on Indian businesses but one that has a disproportionately large presence in the mass consumer segment.
Two months ago, in April, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, made it mandatory for foreign direct investment from neighbouring countries to take prior government approval.
This was also aimed at curbing opportunistic takeovers/ acquisitions of Indian companies during times of the Covid-19 pandemic, when valuations were at new lows.
Over the last few years, India has emerged as a leading innovator when it comes to technological advancements and a primary market in the digital space.
At the same time, there have been raging concerns on aspects relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of 130 crore Indians. It has been noted recently that such concerns also pose a threat to sovereignty and security of the country.
The Ministry of Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about the misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.
The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures.
The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs has also sent an exhaustive recommendation for blocking these malicious apps.
This Ministry has also received many representations raising concerns from citizens regarding security of data and risk to privacy relating to the operation of certain apps.
The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) has also received many representations from citizens regarding the security of data and breach of privacy impacting upon public order issues.
Likewise, there have been similar bipartisan concerns, flagged by various public representatives, both outside and inside the Parliament of India.
There has been a strong chorus in the public space to take strict action against Apps that harm India’s sovereignty as well as the privacy of our citizens.
On the basis of these and upon receiving recent credible inputs that such Apps pose threat to sovereignty and integrity of India, the government has decided to disallow the usage of certain Apps, used in both mobile and non-mobile Internet-enabled devices.
TikTok had nearly 119 million active users in India and was among the top 10 apps on Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Users who still have the TikTok app on their mobile phone can still be able to use it, however, the app can’t be downloaded anymore. Most other Chinese apps banned in India are still available for download.
It must be noted that if you have the app installed on your phone you will still be able to see it on Google Play store. Once you uninstall it the TikTok app will not be visible.
For users who have the TikTok app download can still use the app and post videos but officially the platform is now banned in the country.
Uttar Pradesh Will Generate 1.25 Cr Jobs: PM Modi
PM Modi praised the UP govt for their unprecedented work in ensuring that the poor don’t go hungry.
NEW DELHI/LUCKNOW: The Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh will generate 1.25 cr employment opportunities, primarily in rural areas and across small-scale industries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said. Since the lockdown was announced on 25 March, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from UP have returned to the state after losing their livelihood.
At the virtual launch of the ‘Atma Nirbhar Uttar Pradesh Rojgar Abhiyaan’, along with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Modi said the scheme was a “qualitative and quantitative expansion” of Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan (GKRA), a new central job scheme. He said investors from India and abroad were looking to set up businesses in Uttar Pradesh.
“Uttar Pradesh has increased the scope of Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan. While the scheme started by the Centre had 25 programmes under it, the Uttar Pradesh government has not only added more schemes, but has made a quantitative and qualitative improvement [on the GKRA]. Uttar Pradesh government is expected to employ 1.25 crore people under these schemes, of which 60 lakh will get employment in rural areas, and 40 lakh under micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs),” Modi said.
The ‘Abhiyan is intensely focused towards providing employment, promote local entrepreneurship and create partnership with industrial associations and other organisations to provide employment opportunities’.
Around 50 per cent number of the jobs will be provided under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
The Uttar Pradesh CM had asked the state authorities to map the skill of the workers returning from different states so that they can be provided employment as per their expertise.
The state has around 1.80 crore MGNREGS job cardholders, out of which, 85 lakh have been active.
Commenting on the state government’s initiative, Chief Secretary RK Tiwari said, “We are roping in all major departments to provide work in addition to jobs being provided under the MGNREGS. The micro small and medium enterprises (MSME) department, public works department, horticulture department and the agencies constructing the expressways will also contribute in a big way in the creation of more jobs.”
The Centre had announced the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Package to stimulate various sectors. In order to generate employment with a thrust towards creating infrastructure in backward regions of the country, Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan was launched on June 20, 2020.
The PM lauded the courage and wisdom shown by Uttar Pradesh when Corona is in such a major crisis in the world. He said that the way the state succeeded and the way it handled the situation is unprecedented and is praiseworthy.
PM Modi praised the contribution of doctors, paramedics, sanitation staff, police, ASHAs, Anganwadi workers, banks and post offices, transport services and workers in UP.
PM Modi lauded the Government of UP making efforts to bring back the migrant labour belonging to the state, by facilitating hundreds of Shramik Express Trains.
Indian Railways Cancels All Regular Trains Till August 12
Indian Railways cancels regular passenger trains till this date; IRCTC special trains to run.
NEW DELHI: Railways has decided to cancel all the regular timetabled passenger services including Mail/Express, passenger and suburban Service up to 12th August this year.
However, all special trains — 12 pairs running on the Rajdhani routes since May 12 and 100 pairs operating since June 1 — will continue, they said. While 30 Rajdhani-like AC trains were started initially, the IRCTC began 200 more trains since 1 June.
The limited special suburban services which began recently in Mumbai to ferry essential services personnel identified by the local authorities will also continue to run, officials said.
All the tickets booked for regular time table trains, for the journey date from July 1 to 12th August will be cancelled and a full refund will be given to the passengers.
In case of train cancellations, Indian Railways refunds the full amount to passengers, however, the advise is that passengers should refrain from going to the IRCTC website to cancel their booking. The refund will be automatically credited to the user’s account once the train is cancelled in our system, IRCTC has said for online train ticket bookings.
Earlier, the Railways had cancelled all trains till June 30.
Since 25 March 2020, when the nationwide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic began, all regular train services of the national transporter have been cancelled by Indian Railways. However, to ferry those who are stranded and those who have to undertake urgent train journeys, the Indian Railways started IRCTC special trains services from 12 May 2020 onwards.
Initially, the IRCTC special train services consisted of 30 Rajdhani-style AC trains, including the to-and-fro journeys, but from 1 June 2020, additional 200 IRCTC special trains were introduced including non-AC sleeper train services.
To travel on these IRCTC special trains, tickets can be booked on the IRCTC website (irctc.co.in) or IRCTC mobile application, at reservation counters, post offices, through agents, etc.
All the passenger trains that are currently being operated by Indian Railways are fully reserved services with limited waitlisted tickets.
To prevent novel coronavirus infection, all those who are commencing train journeys on these special trains must follow certain guidelines like downloading Aarogya Setu application, social distancing, wearing of masks, thermal screening at stations, etc.
A railway spokesperson said during the lockdown period booking of tickets was allowed till April 14 with an advance reservation period of 120 days.
“Some of the passengers had booked tickets for regular trains being run before lockdown for the journey up to 12 August (120 days from 14 April). In order to facilitate full refunds to those passengers who had booked tickets on or prior to April 14, 2020, these bookings have been cancelled,” he said.
The spokesperson said the Railways is monitoring occupancy position of these special trains on a regular basis and whenever a decision is taken to introduce new special trains, its schedule will be notified.
Regular train services have been disrupted days ahead of the nationwide lockdown which began from March 25. The Railways has also run more than 4,000 Shramik Special trains since May 1 to ferry migrant workers back to their home states.
Other than these services, the entire passenger services had been non-operational. However, it continued to run its freight and parcel services.
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