IAF sends helicopter to tame wildfire in Dzukou Valley on Manipur-Nagaland border

Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh said the fire started two-three days ago

December 31, 2020 11:53 am | Updated 11:59 am IST - GUWAHATI:

Smoke billowing from Dzukou Valley on Manipur-Nagaland border.

Smoke billowing from Dzukou Valley on Manipur-Nagaland border.

The Indian Air Force has engaged an Mi-17V5 helicopter to tame a massive wildfire in Dzukou Valley, a popular trekking destination on the Manipur-Nagaland border.

A spokesperson of the Shillong-headquartered Eastern Air Command said the helicopter was launched on the basis of a requisition by the Nagaland government.

“The helicopter is equipped with Bambi Bucket for fire-fighting in Dzukou Valley near Kohima,” Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh said on Thursday.

“Very unfortunate that a wildfire has started in the Dzukou Valley, one of the most beautiful places in Manipur. It probably started two-three days ago from the Nagaland side and crossed over to our side,” Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh said.

The Nagaland State Disaster Management Authority had on December 30 confirmed the wildfire but the cause and extent of damage could not be ascertained. Strong winds and ambient dryness are said to be the factors behind the fire spreading fast.

Rajkumar M., the Divisional Forest Officer of Kohima, said the main valley was not on fire. “A hillock near the main valley is and efforts are on to contain it with the help of the local youth,” he said.

Dzukou, about 30 km from Kohima, is a sanctuary for the endangered Blyth’s tragopan – Nagaland’s State Bird – and other species of birds and animals.

Often caught in a boundary dispute between Manipur and Nagaland, the Dzukou Valley has been prone to wildfires. Members of the Southern Angami Youth Organisation, which runs an adventure-based conservation programme, handle such fires in most cases.

The last major incident was in 2006 when a 20-km stretch of the southern part of Dzukou was affected.

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