The wildfire that broke out at the Dzuko range in Southern Angami region of Nagaland’s Kohima district on December 29 afternoon has completely charred the vegetations on Mount Iso (Tenipu), the highest peak of Manipur, DC Senapati district Kh Kiran said on Tuesday.
A team of journalists on Tuesday visited the areas affected by the wildfire to collect reports on the developing situation. While interacting with firefighters, they said that high velocity winds are pushing the spread of the inferno though they have doused almost 60 per cent of the flames.
The wildfire continues to rage at various spots in Dzuko range, and it is very difficult to manage it amid the strong winds, they said, adding that it may take a few days to control and bring it down.
While no dead animals have been found as of now, trees and other small plant species are completely burned, added firefighters.
DC Kh Kiran said that the massive wildfire at the famous Dzuko valley located on the border of Manipur and Nagaland continues to burn. Indian Air Force helicopters are in operation to douse the fire, he said. The water dropped from the air by helicopters in a bid to put off the fire has not been very successful so far, since it is a hilly area and it could not be dropped at the desired target, he said. “We are considering approaching the chief minister to provide a helicopter for an aerial survey along with the help of local guides who are aware of the area,” he said.
He said, the total area damaged by the fire has not been determined yet. However, the forest department will conduct a survey and assess it including the environment destruction.
The exact source of the fire has not been known yet but according to locals of Mao, it is learned that the fire started from the Nagaland side, he mentioned.
After observing the situation, it is also learned that the fire appears to be spreading towards Yangkhullen village.
Regarding the demise of one NDRF personnel, the deputy commissioner said that the deceased was healthy, and he was also a part of the team engaged in putting off the fire till Monday. On Tuesday, he took rest in the camp and was later found dead, he said.
DFO Senapati, D John Sha expressed that as of now, they are yet to determine how much forest areas have been damaged by the ground fire. However, assessments are currently being made, he said. “We will be holding a meeting today with Manipur Mountaineering and Trekking Association (MMTA) and People for Animals (PFA) and make detailed assessments of the developing situation,” he said. “We have been planning to bring a drone from the Forest department and make it fly over the area but unfortunately not permitted due to strong winds,” he added.
When asked about the flora and fauna destroyed by the fire, he mentioned that maximum plants consumed by the fire are bamboo shrubs while the rest remained unidentified so far. The area is mostly inhabited by wild boars, deer, wild cats etc. but a detailed study is yet to be made, he said. No reports of animal deaths have been made by the PFA so far, he further said while adding the terrain is steep and it is difficult to access the area for closer observation, he added.
A representative of the Fire service department said that the department director Themthing Ngasangva and its joint director L Nabachandra have been taking utmost care to ensure that they remain fit and healthy amid the pandemic. Regarding the speculations that the forest fire may have been started by some persons with a match, he urged the people to take extra caution while dealing with fire as one careless act could cause major accidents and lead to loss of properties and lives.
Minister Dikho said that regarding the border tensions between Manipur and Nagaland, the chief ministers of both sides have talked and decided to form a joint committee of both states for conducting a survey. Making a demarcation after conducting a survey will be fruitful, he said.