Watch: Dzukou wildfire 'in control', but damage yet to be ascertained
Kohima: Over 10 days after the picturesque Dzukou valley was engulfed in the wildfire, the situation remains grim with rescuers continuing to work full-time.
Hundreds of firefighters, Indian Army, Air Force, Assam Rifles, National Disaster Response Force, Forest Department and community volunteers have been engaged in dousing the inferno. Four helicopters of the IAF have been deployed since the fire spread across Nagaland and into Manipur.
No wonder, the wildfire has experts worried. Dr Kenei Miachieo, Conservator of Forests, Southern Territorial Circle. said "Dzukou valley is one of the pristine ecosystems, which we still have. It is one of our heritage and is one of a unique Himalayan ecosystem. The topography is like a rice bowl where you have mountains ranges surrounding the valley. This area of around 200 sq km is still a virgin forest. It is a sort of carbon sync for our state, and it is also the main area where water catchment is natural."
The forest official added the temperature at the valley moderates the microclimate of Kohima city. "If the Dzukou valley forest is degraded, we will have a lot of difficulty in terms of a rise and drop in temperature and also the water supply," Miachieo observed.
Although the wildfire has been brought under control, the cause and the total area devastated by the fire is yet to be ascertained, the official added.
While fire incidents at the valley have also been reported over the past year, Miachieo said that this time, the ridges have been affected quite badly, and firefighters cannot get to the point of incidence due to the inaccessibility of routes. Grasslands areas, terrains with 80-90% slope, dry leave litters, wind velocity at the high altitude are other few factors that have added to the challenges in firefighting at the valley.
On January 8, Kohima Deputy Commissioner Mohammed Ali Shihab A imposed a ban on burning of jungles in order to prevent serious loss of public property and to prevent disruption of the ecological balance. Local communities have been active in areas around the valley to prevent the fire from spreading further.