The Dzukou Valley, which is located 30 km from Kohima, is also a sanctuary for the endangered Blyth’s tragopan – Nagaland’s state bird – and other species of birds, animals and flowers.
The fire that broke out last Tuesday along the ranges in Nagaland has since spread to Manipur.
Made an aeriel survey of the latest forest fire situation at Dzukou valley today. Seeing the tremendous joint efforts by all concerned to tackle the situation, I am hopeful that the fire will soon be doused. pic.twitter.com/FkrP5O7nOq
IAF, NDRF and Nagaland government, however, are hopeful of controlling the inferno soon even though it had devastated a considerable part of the pristine area, comprising small hillocks and picturesque greenery.
IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh told IANS that following a requisition by the Nagaland government, the Eastern Air Command in Shillong since had since Friday deployed four Mi-17V5 helicopters equipped with Bambi buckets to check the wildfire.
Battle to douse flames continues
Nagaland State Disaster Management Authority OSD Johnny Ruangmei told IANS that the Indian Army, IAF, paramilitary forces, state authorities, along with hundreds of volunteers and locals, continued their battle against the wildfire in the Dzukou Valley.
“The wildfire has been doused in most areas but gusty winds have taken the blaze to newer areas. We expect to tame the blaze fully in the next two days,” said Ruangmei, who is supervising the operation round-the-clock.
“We are intensifying the operations as more than 130 personnel from police, forest, NDRF, SDRF and SAYO volunteers are now stationed in the base camp for Thursday’s early morning operations,” said Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Kohima, Rajkumar M.
They are camping near the fire site so that they can do operation early Thursday, he said, adding another 90 personnel will be joining them on Thursday and around 250 strong contingent are expected to intensify the operation.
Fire fighting equipment, ration, and camping materials were flown to Dzukou heliport by IAF choppers on Wednesday for the personnel camping in the base camp, he said.
An Assistant Sub-Inspector of the NDRF deployed to tackle the fire was found dead in his tent on Tuesday in northern Manipur’s Senapati district bordering Nagaland.
The destruction of God-given beauty and resources of the Dzukou valley is sad. I hope we will all strive to support the efforts of preserving and promoting the rich biodiversity of the valley and learn to live in harmony with nature. pic.twitter.com/d8GAT73fvC
According to the officials, the inferno has destroyed much of the forest, seasonal flowers, flora and fauna and harmed the rich biodiversity of the valley, which is also a famous trekking site.
According to Kohima district Deputy Commissioner Mohammed Ali Shihab, eight helicopters equipped with Bambi buckets, including four from the IAF and two from the Army, continued their operations to control the wildfire.