LAHORE - After reports of locust attack on crops in Sindh and Balochistan, Punjab Chief Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar on Tuesday directed the provincial authorities to prepare a plan to deal with possible swarm of the pest in southern Punjab.

He issued these directions while presiding over a meeting held at Civil Secretariat to cope with its possible attack in Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan. The chief secretary asked the relevant departments to remain vigilant and timely complete necessary arrangements regarding purchase of pesticides, and equipment used for spray.

He directed the agriculture department to ensure continuous monitoring and submit a report on a daily basis. He said that local communities should be mobilised for scouting as their cooperation is of significant importance to combat locusts. The chief secretary also ordered the administrations of Bahawalpur and DG Khan to actively coordinate with provincial and federal agencies.

The Secretary Agriculture Department told the meeting that in view of the threat, relevant departments have been put on alert and 14 special teams have been formed. He maintained that the provincial government is in contact with Sindh and Balochistan to get timely information and continues monitoring is being done in Bahawalpur and DG Khan.

He said that the Punjab government is coordinating with federal institutions, especially Ministry of National Food Security and Plant Protection Department and process has been initiated to purchase pesticides for locusts’ control on immediately basis, if required. He concluded that aircraft of Federal Plant Protection Department would be available for aerial spray while camels would be used for spray of pesticides in remote areas of Cholistan.