Kohima/Imphal: The National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) has additional teams and pressed more choppers into services to help the ground forces in Manipur contain the Dzukou Valley wildfire that started on December 29.

A total of 7 NDRF teams have been pressed into action. Four at Manipur and three at Nagaland. 56 NDRF personnel airlifted by IAF from Borjhar, Assam. Meanwhile, teams airlifted for fire fighting have landed in Nagaland and Manipur.

Yesterday, IAF Mi-17 V5 helicopter was deployed for fire fighting mission at Dzuko valley near Kohima, Nagaland & a C-130J Hercules aircraft airlifted 9 tonnes load with 48 NDRF personnel from Guwahati to Dimapur. 

IAF is deploying 3 more helicopters equipped with Bambi Bucket, the IAF said in a statement.

The centre has assured all necessary help to combat the massive blaze that started in Nagaland four days ago and has since spread to its neighbouring state.

Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh, who had conducted an aerial survey to take stock of the wildfire that has caused huge damage since it broke out on Tuesday, on Friday tweeted that he had received a call from Union Home Minister Amit Shah to assess and discuss the situation.

“Amit Shah Ji has assured all the necessary assistance from the Home Ministry to contain the situation at the earliest,” he said.

Nagaland State Disaster Management Authority`s Officer on Special Duty, Johnny Ruangmei said that the heavy gusty winds affected the efforts to douse the fire.

“We have requested the IAF to deploy at least three more helicopters to tame the inferno,” Ruangmei said over phone.

He said that the army, state police, state and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Forest Department, volunteers of Southern Angami Youth Organisation (SAYO), accompanied by the local people and NGOs, are jointly making fire lines in the Valley to break off the link between the blaze and the forest.

IAF spokesman Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh said that following a requisition by Nagaland, the Eastern Air Command in Shillong has deployed a Mi-17V5 helicopter to check the wildfire.

“The helicopter is equipped with a Bambi Bucket for fire fighting,” Wing Commander Singh said over phone from Shillong.

The Manipur government has also requested the NDRF and the army to help control the wildfire that has spread to its Senapati district.

In a series of tweets, tagged to the Prime Minister`s Office, the Manipur Chief Minister said: “The wildfire that broke out at Dzukou valley has spread quite extensively and caused serious damage on this part of mountain range.

“Taking a serious view of the wildfire at Dzukou Valley, having a personal aerial survey of the situation, sending more personnel to the spot and seeking help from the concerned authorities to prevent the spread of the blaze and save the deep forest portion of the Valley.”

“The fire has already crossed Mount Iso, the highest peak of Manipur. If the wind direction is going to the southern side, there is a high possibility of entering in the thickest forest called Koziirii in Manipur. Need help.”

Nagaland Governor R. N. Ravi, accompanied by Kohima district officials including Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police as well as members of the local NGOs, had visited the Dzukou Valley on Wednesday for a first-hand assessment of the intensity of the fire and the destruction being caused by it.

According to the statement, the Governor urged the state government to immediately frame appropriate SOPs including Satellite Based Real Time Early Warning System to prevent recurrence of such a disaster.

The Dzukou Valley, 30 km from Kohima, also is 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 also has been prone to wildfires.

Members of the SAYO, which run an adventure-based conservation programme, tackled such fires in many cases earlier. In 2006, the wildfire affected a 20-km stretch of the southern part of Dzukou valley.

(With IANS inputs)

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