Dzuko Valley and our border
Considering the tragedy, it is time for both the states to thrash out issues instead of confronting each other.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is involved in the efforts to control the wildfire that has spread across the Dzuko valley. As the wildfire in Dzuko Valley on Manipur-Nagaland border continued to sweep over the hill ranges, efforts continued to control the raging inferno. The wildfire that started on the evening of December 29 in the Dzuko range from the Nagaland side spread to Dzuko in Senapati district of Manipur. So far, over 200 acres of Mount Iso range has been reduced to cinders. As the wildfire rapidly spread to more ranges in Dzuko, another combined team of 59 personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), 35 personnel of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), 32 personnel of Manipur Fire Service and Manipur Police personnel made another attempt to prevent the spread of fire in the southern side of Mount Iso range. Two Indian Air Force Mi-17 V5 helicopters were also deployed to spray water.
The Union Home Minister Amit Shah took stock of the situation and assured all necessary assistance to Manipur CM N Biren Singh from the Home Ministry to control the wildfire. It was reported on January 1, 2021, that after a thorough analysis of the nature of the wildfire and the landscape of the region, a combined team of Senapati District Police, fire service and local volunteers cleared a stretch of around a half kilometre of forest vegetation in between the third and the second mountain of Mount Iso range. The team successfully prevented the spread of the fire towards the eastern side by using sand and fire extinguisher. However, the inferno continued on the southern and western side and approximately 200 acres of Mount Iso range had already been reduced to cinders. On December 30, a team of officials of Mao police, Forest Department and local volunteers from Mao areas numbering around 130 went for spot verification and to prevent the spread of the fire. However, it was hard to extinguish the fire as it was spreading fast in the dry small bamboo bushes due to the speedy wind.
Dzuko Valley sits high amongst the clouds at 2,452 meters above sea level, straddling the border with Nagaland state. The trek to Dzuko Valley can begin either at Mao and Mt. Isu in Senapati or Jakhama and Viswema villages in Nagaland. For a leisurely trek to Dzuko valley, one prefers the Nagaland route while for the more adventurous the Manipur route is preferred. Trekkers say, the Manipur route is more scenic. There’s also a much harder route from Willong in Manipur. A state border between Manipur and Nagaland runs through the heart of Dzuko Valley, marked at some points by a narrow stream. Whichever route one chooses to reach the valley, it will first involve a morning steep climb, followed by a gentle descent into the valley, and walking through both states once you’re actually in the valley.
Such fires are not uncommon in the valley. It happened in 2006, 2009 and 2012 also. In the 2018 incident, 8 trekkers of Manipur Mountaineering and Trekking Association (MMTA) were accosted by Southern Angami Youth Organisation (SAYO) and handed over to Nagaland police laying the entire blame of causing the fire on them. This time also, SAYO tried to stop the Manipur fire-fighters in their rescue effort. It is a fact that, the border between the two states cuts through the Dzuko valley and it is the responsibility of both states to event affecting the valley. Considering the tragedy, it is time for both the states to thrash out issues instead of confronting each other. Dzuko valley is a site which attracts tourist attention and the adventurous folks, and both states can share the developmental issues. There should not be any issue about territory. In the present incident, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh had shown his intent to protect the borderlands of the state.
In fact, in a recently held Cabinet meeting, a decision to construct a 15 km long road from Mao to Dzuko valley is significant. After the Cabinet meeting, Chief Minister N Biren Singh announced that Mao MLA and PHED minister Losii Dikho has been entrusted with the job of directly overseeing the road construction to be completed within the timeframe of three-four months.