IAF's Mi17 at the Dzukou valley base camp

Kohima: Wildfire in the Dzukou Valley is under control, officials said on Thursday, even as hundreds of firefighters and community volunteers in Nagaland and Manipur remain deployed to douse the inferno since it was first reported on December 29. Meanwhile, Union Home Secretary took stock of the situation in a meeting with officials from both states on Thursday.

“Minor fire has been spotted at two new sites today. We will assess the situation again on Friday,” said Johnny Ruangmei, Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to the Nagaland State Disaster Management Authority (NSDMA).

“If the weather is on our side, we would be able to control it in the next two days,” said Santosh Chaudhary, Assistant Commandant, NDRF, also in-charge of the disaster response force’s operations. He said strong winds were aiding the wildfire, which is now burning on the hillocks close to the valley, a popular destination for tourists.

Difficult terrain and low temperature have made the operations difficult. Moreover, there is no proper shelter except for one accommodation for hikers, which is now being used by the rescue workers on ground. Rations were airdropped on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Indian Air Force on Thursday said they will continue the operations with four helicopters.

Ruangmei added the Nagaland government had demanded four more helicopters to help in the firefighting in addition to the four already deployed.

Ajay Kumar Bhalla, the Union Home Secretary chaired a meeting with chief secretaries of Nagaland and Manipur and other officials on Thursday.

Ruangmei said the MHA has promised all possible help. Issues like common alert protocol, forest fire alert system were discussed in the meeting.

Amid the ongoing fire situation, Kohima Deputy Commissioner Mohammed Ali Shihab A has also reinstated the ban on burning of jungles until further orders.

All Village Councils under Kohima district have been directed to inform and warn the public to refrain from burning of jungles in order to prevent serious loss of public property and to prevent disruption of the ecological balance.

“An individual/village found violating the order will be penalised under relevant sections of law and will also be liable to a payment of fines,” e offcial said.

The DC warned that the Village Development Board (VDB) grant will also be withheld until such fines are paid.

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