An army of caterpillars has ravaged thousands of hectares of standing paddy crops in Assam. Locally known as shur puk, the worms usually affect areas where large-scale flooding has taken place recently. The last time such a major attack of armyworms took place was in 1967, but the damage wasn’t as widespread. However, this time, already standing crop in 17, 418 hectares have been destroyed by these insects. Ten districts in Upper and Lower Assam have already been affected. Golaghat is the worst affected with 6,671 hectares.
Menace of shur puk
‘This is the biggest such attack the state has faced and we are worried. The problem has taken epidemic proportions,’ state agriculture minister Atul Bora. This year’s floods have damaged standing crop worth Rs 193 crore in over 200,000 hectares. The minister stressed instructions have been issued to procure pesticides required to destroy the worms. He assured results would show in 24 hours.
‘Crop damage is also happening in the agriculture minister’s own constituency. But the government is yet to take any concrete measures,’ peasant leader and activist Akhil Gogoi said.