It's 6 a.m. in Rajasthan's Ganganagar city and the Gurdwaras are not resounding with the soothing sound of Gurbani, rather a warning bell for farmers could be heard from them, along with the warning: "tiddi aa rahi hai, jao apne khet bachao" (locusts are approaching, go and save your fields).
Farmers and their families are using innovative methods to fight off the insects. They are staying awake throughout the night, beating vessels and plates to scare away the pests.
Besides Gurdwaras, similar warnings are also being given from Temples and a few Mosques, says Ranjeet Singh Raju, convener, Ganganagar Kisaan Samiti.
He said: "For the first time in my life, I am seeing Gurdwaras here warning farmers to save their fields instead of recitng Gurbani. This has started since last Thursday."
"The state administration and government have totally failed in controlling the locust menace here and therefore we need to search for solutions for self defence.
"We all know the locusts can't survive sound and therefore we are bursting crackers in the fields, making noise and beating vessels throughout the night to ensure they don't ravage our crops," Raju said.
"Another idea that we have developed is that we take out the silencer of our tractor and then create noise to ward off the insects," he added.
Another farmer Rajendra Brar said, "We are lighting fires in the fields so that the locusts flee from the thick fumes."
"However, now, nothing is working. The locusts have attacked for the first time in winter, they generally attack in summer, but the winter attack is getting beyond control and hence a quick solution is required which can combat the menace."
Raju demanded, "We want the administration to sprinkle pesticides and chemicals through helicopters in the affected areas."
Another farmer Vikramjeet Singh said that what is required is an immediate solution which can check the locust invasion. There is a need to spray insecticides in the air when they fly and hence helicopters are needed. But since that is not being done, the farmers stand together beating vessels throughout the night. Many are suffering ftom rising BP, sugar fluctuations and deteriorating health.
When asked if state government officials have visited them to calculate the losses as was directed by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, the farmers said, "No one has visited us as of now. We have standing crops which have to be harvested in the next two months. So can they compensate us for all our losses."
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