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Dzukou blaze under control but operations to continue: Officer

Kohima, Jan 9: The authorities in Nagaland expressed confidence that the 11-day long wildfire in the famed Dzukou Valley on Nagaland-Manipur border would be fully doused within the next 24 hours even as the IAF,

Kohima, Jan 9: The authorities in Nagaland expressed confidence that the 11-day long wildfire in the famed Dzukou Valley on Nagaland-Manipur border would be fully doused within the next 24 hours even as the IAF, NDRF and other agencies continued their battle to tame the inferno. 

Nagaland State Disaster Management Authority OSD Johnny Ruangmei said that the Indian Army, Indian Air Force (IAF), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), paramilitary forces, state authorities, along with hundreds of volunteers and locals have been able to largely control the wildfire in the Dzukou Valley. 

The fire on the Dzukou range is under total control but all operations will continue, added a Nagaland forest officer.

No active fire at Dzukou Valley

No active fire was noticed after over 10 days of operations. Smoke seen arising at three locations were quickly doused during the day, Kohima Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Rajkumar M said.

Fire on the range has been raging since December 29.

“The situation is totally under control but operations will continue,” he said.

IAF sources said that four Mi-17V5 helicopters equipped with Bambi buckets sprayed water to check the wildfire on Thursday.

“Following the Nagaland government’s requisitions, we had started our uninterrupted operations since last Friday (January 1),” IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh 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.

Damage in Dzukou Valley fire

Forest officials of Nagaland and Manipur said that they are yet to assess how much vegetation, flora and fauna have been destroyed due to the wildfire since December 29.

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.

Beauty of Dzukou Valley

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, the wildfire affected a 20-km stretch in the southern part of the valley.

Around 300 personnel of the NDRF, SDRF, Home Guards, police and volunteers of the Southern Angami Youth Organisation (SAYO) and four Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters are engaged in the firefight, Rajkumar said.

“Both ground and air teams are constantly monitoring the situation as we don”t want to take any chance,” he said.

The IAF choppers will continue dropping essential supplies for the ground teams at the base camp, conducting aerial surveys and undertaking Bambi bucket operations, the DFO said. 

Team NewsFile