Fire still ravaging Dzükou valley: NDRF

Fire still ravaging Dzükou valley: NDRF
Aerial view of the scenic Dzükou valley ravaged by the fire on Tuesday. (CMO)
Correspondent KOHIMA, JAN 5 (NPN) | Publish Date: 1/5/2021 12:45:19 PM IST

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has expressed concern that the forest fire at Dzukou valley was “continuously increasing its magnitude” and spreading towards the hills of neighbouring Manipur.

According to PTI, NDRF spokesman said NDRF has deployed seven teams in the affected areas of Kohima district Nagaland and Senapati district in Manipur to assist firefighters to extinguish the fire.

Of the total seven NDRF teams, three are approaching the affected area from the western side near Essi hills in Kohima district. The rest of the team were approaching the area from the eastern side at Mao in Senapati.

The fire which initially started from the Southern side of the valley has now spread to the South-Western side burning every tree and other vegetation in its path.

The fire, at the Elephant gate has now reportedly spread to Tevirü (Cherry) range and inching closer to human habitat on the extreme West side.

Nagaland Post reporter at ground zero spoke to NDRF operational in-charge (Nagaland side) and spokesperson asst. commandant, Santosh Kumar Singh. He said the NDRF was using everything at their disposal to douse the fire that was destroying a large tract of forest ecology and biodiversity in the area. Singh lamented that the biggest hurdle affecting the operations was the strong wind blowing from different directions. Turbulence caused by the strong winds also affected the ‘Bambi bucket operation’ being carried out by the Indian Air Force. Singh also disclosed that three NDRF teams with around 30 personnel each were engaged in the operation to help douse the fire.

He said that the NDRF personnel along with all other agencies and SAYO volunteers were able to make a fire line cutting of over 3000 metres at various locations, since it was the most effective way besides aerial support.

Southern Angami Public Organization (SAPO) president Vimeyol Theyo, who also trekked to the base camp said that SAPO was very concerned since the fire was burning out all its ancestral land, which is a great resource to its people.

Theyo said SAPO was ready to provide manpower besides help in other form to ensure that the fire was completely doused.

He also informed that 10 volunteers from each of the 13 Southern Angami villages were regularly deployed at ground zero to assist in the fire fighting.

CM undertakes aerial survey 

Meanwhile, Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio undertook an aerial survey of the Valley on Tuesday to assess the damage caused by the raging fire as well as the operations being carried out to contain and douse it. 

However owing to inclement weather the chopper carrying Rio and his team could not land at either of the two helipads constructed in the valley for the first responders. 

According to a statement issued by the press & media of the cell at CMO, during the aerial survey, Rio witnessed the patches in the valley which were burnt and the portions where the fire was still raging. Rio also took note of ground operations being carried out by personnel of Central and State agencies like NDRF, State Disaster Response Force, forest department, Nagaland Police, etc, along with Southern Angami Youth Organisation (SAYO) volunteers for making traditional fire line cutting to contain the fire and protect the valley, which has been made over a length of more than 9 km till date.

CMO said Rio appreciated the efforts made by everyone which prevented further spread of fire and helped keep the situation under control. 

In view of the fire still spreading at some locations, Rio sought continued coordinated effort by all the agencies involved so that the situation was brought under full control and the pristine valley remains protected.

CMO office said that the government, consequent to reports received about the raging fire in Dzükou Valley on December 29, requisitioned IAF helicopters immediately. Kohima District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) requisitioned police personnel, SDRF Kohima unit, home guards and civil defence and together with NDRF unit, Kohima forest division, along with large number of volunteers provided by SAYO, successfully executed a traditional fire control line on December 31 and January 1 stretching over seven km to protect the most fragile part of the valley.

CMO said subsequently, three more IAF helicopters were requisitioned by the State. Two more units of NDRF personnel were also deployed from outside the State to contain the fire, even as the SAYO volunteers continuously camped in the valley to keep a close watch on the fire situation. 

 It was also observed that there were no damages yet due to the fire in the main part of the picturesque Dzükou Valley. 

Those who accompanied the chief minster on the aerial survey included- IT&C, NRE and science & technology adviser Mmhonlumo Kikon, technical education and election adviser Medo Yhokha, Home commissioner Abhijit Sinha, DGP John Longkumer and Kohima district forest officer accompanied the chief minister in the aerial survey. 

Meanwhile, a special review meeting held at the base camp on Tuesday led by DC Kohima, Mohammed Ali Shihab, who is also the chairman of Kohima District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA). The meeting took some collective decisions like increasing manpower at ground zero from the current 80 personnel to 100, who will constantly monitor the situation.

It also decided to urge the state government to request more sorties from the Indian Air Force.

A recce team was also formed and despatched to inspect the fire up-close as it was inching closer towards the main valley from the Southwestern side of the range.



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