The National Green Tribunal declined to consider a petition; seeking implementation of the Centre’s contingency plan to combat the impending locust attack. “The applicants acknowledge that there is a contingency plan. There is nothing to show that the concerned authorities are not taking any action in the matter. On this material, we do not find any ground to pass any order on an assumption that the authorities are not taking any action;” said, Chairperson, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goela heading the bench.
The tribunal has allowed them to approach the concerned departments in case of a complaint. Advocate Gaurav Bansal filed the plea on behalf of the non-governmental organisation, Centre for Wildlife and Environmental Litigation Foundation.
The plea states that, although there is a contingency plan several states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are facing the locust swarm attack since February; and the situation is getting worse in some of the areas. Gujarat and Maharashtra are also impacted by the swarm of millions of insects; which eat up crops in the field they attack, leaving heavy crop damage.
The plea stated: “The worst affected are the farmers of the said area, thus the applicant NGO seeks urgent intervention of this tribunal and seeks direction to submit status report on the implementation of plan prepared by Directorate of Plant Protection, Quarantine and Storage, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmer Welfare, Union of India.”
“Direct the Centre to evaluate the crop damage caused due to locust swarm attack and provide compensation to poor farmers affected by it,” the plea requested.
The Contingency Plan
The contingency plan is a guidance document for Locust Field Offices, state governments and other stakeholders during the attack.
The plea stated that the plan covers assistance required from different stakeholders, their contribution and role, activities, type of strategy adopted, the formation of teams, available resources, shortfalls; and ways and means of obtaining additional resources, and the deployment as also the actions that need to be taken.
The plan also provides for use of aircraft with spraying kits for locust control purpose. The petitioners sought the constitution of committees to control the locust swarm attack within their respective states. The Delhi government issued an advisory on Tuesday; on preventive measures to control the looming locust attack in the national capital. It asked the authorities to organize awareness among farmers, spraying of insecticide and not letting the swarms rest during the night.