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Nagaland

Uneasy calm on Day 6 at Japfü

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By EMN Updated: Feb 06, 2014 12:59 am
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Correspondent
KOHIMA, FEBRUARY 5

THE forest wildfire which broke out from Mount Japfü January 30 looked like it was dying out on Wednesday but continues to remain vulnerable to strong winds. Forest authorities are apprehensive that a strong wind could ignite fresh fires in different areas as the wind could fan flames out of smouldering logs of wood and carry the fire to other areas.District Forest Officer (DFO) Kohima, Sidramatta Chalkapure told Eastern Mirror that combined efforts from both ground and air had brought down the fire earlier this evening, however, he said smoke could still be seen billowing out from several small pockets towards the southern end as well as on the western end of Mt Japfii. These pockets are extremely narrow which is making it difficult for both the ground force and air support teams to access the areas. The fire in these few areas are unlikely to spread as they are located in deep gorges and are expected to be extinguished or die out naturally by Thursday, he said.
The DFO said that the wildfire has caused enormous damage to the biodiversity of the range. He said an area of around 5-6 Sq. kms is estimated to have been completely destroyed. This includes the home and breeding grounds of the Blyth’s Tragopan, the state bird. The DFO also recalled seeing a barking deer during a recent trek up Mt. Japfü as did some other trekkers several days before the wildfire. Barking Deers are species indicators of good rich forests.
“A large part of the area contained very good patches for various species of Rhododendrons,” the official said. Pointing out that a good water source originates from the Japfü range, he expressed concern that the after the damage of the wild fire the capacity and natural flow of the water will be reduced until vegetation grow back and thrive on the area again.
Meanwhile, Assistant Conservator of Forest, Beizo Soukhrie said several sorties were carried out by the Indian Air Force helicopters on Wednesday as reinforcement to the ground force including personnel from territorial army from 164 Inf. Bn. (HnH) NAGA unit, forest department staff and volunteers from Kigwema. “As of now, the fire is dying down and doesn’t seem to be spreading much, but we cannot be so confident as anything may happen,” he said.
The ACF also informed that since the fire is very unlikely to spread any further, the ground force will be observing the situation from the base camp at Pony Farm, Kigwema, which is located above the Japfü Christian College. However, chopper sortie will continue and will be carried out after 10 am on Thursday, he said.
It may be mentioned that the Ministry of Home Affairs had detailed two IAF helicopters, one from Siliguri and the other from Bagdogra, to carry out air efforts in fighting the forest wildfire on the mountains of Japfü. It is said that such operation is a first to be undertaken by the IAF. Each chopper sortie reportedly carried a bucket capacity of 3000 litres of water lifted from a pond in Padumpukhuri, Dimapur to douse the fire on Japfü forest.

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By EMN Updated: Feb 06, 2014 12:59:24 am