Two-week Long Wildfire in Dzukou Valley Doused, Damage Assessment Soon

11 January 2021

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INDIA – The two-week long wildfire in Dzukou Valley on Nagaland-Manipur borders has been doused, and no fresh fire or smoke was visible on Monday, officials said.

Kohima District Deputy Commissioner Mohammed Ali Shihad A said that a coordination cum de-briefing meeting was held in connection with the Dzukou Valley wildfire and the meeting reviewed the entire operation.

“The Nagaland State Disaster Management Authority (NSDMA) would assess the damage caused to the forest, environment and other flora and fauna in Dzukou Valley,” the Deputy Commissioner said.

He said the coordination cum de-briefing meeting, which was chaired by Nagaland Home Commissioner Abhijit Sinha, appreciated all the concerned agencies for assisting in dousing the forest fire.

“The meeting also decided that since no fresh fire was reported from anywhere in the valley during the inspection by both the ground and air teams for the past few days, all the IAF helicopters deployed for dousing the fire will be de-inducted,” the DC said.

An official statement said that the authorities have decided that the de-induction of five National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams deployed at the base camp would be carried out on Tuesday.

“It was also decided that officials and personnel of forest and other concerned departments and the volunteers of Southern Angami Youth Organisation (SAYO) would be stationed at the base camp to keep a watch on the situation for the next few days,” the statement said.

It said that the sub-divisional officer of Kohima, Daniel Angami, who is now camping in the Dzukou Valley base camp, has reported that the de-induction of the ground operation team was conducted on Monday.

According to the statement, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has airlifted the fire fighting equipment of NDRF and State Disaster Response Force stationed at Dzukou Valley base camp to the Jakhama military helipad. The fire fighting equipment included NDRF tents, fire fighting suits, batteries etc.

IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh said the four IAF Mi-17V5 helicopters equipped with Bambi buckets sprayed huge quantities of water to douse the wildfire.

He said that responding to Nagaland government’s requisition, the IAF had started uninterrupted operations since January 1.

A large number of volunteers and locals also helped the NDRF, IAF and army troopers to douse the wildfire.

The wildfire broke out in the Dzukou Valley under Kohima district in southern Nagaland on December 29 and crossed over to the northern Manipur side, forcing both the state governments to request the NDRF and the army to help contain the wildfire.

According to the officials, the inferno has destroyed much of the forest areas, seasonal flowers, flora and fauna and harmed the rich biodiversity of the valley, which is also a famous trekking site.

One of the 10 most beautiful places in the mountainous northeast India, the Dzukou valley, 30 km from Kohima, is also a sanctuary for the endangered Blyth’s tragopan – Nagaland’s state bird – and other species of birds and animals.

The iconic valley, situated at an altitude of 2,452 metres above the sea level, is a popular tourist spot and also famous for its seasonal flowers and biodiversity.

Often caught in a boundary dispute between Manipur and Nagaland, it has been prone to wildfires.

Members of the Southern Angami Youth Organisation (SAYO), which runs an adventure-based conservation programme, tackled such fires in many instances earlier. In 2006, wildfire affected a 20-km stretch in the southern part of the valley.

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