| A helicopter hovers over the forest at Mount Japfu to douse the fire. File picture |
Jorhat, Feb. 8: The Nagaland government will appeal to the Centre to take steps to restore the forest cover at Mount Japfu, which was devastated by a forest fire last week.
The principal chief conservator of forests, Nagaland, Lokeswara Rao Madiraju, told The Telegraph that it was necessary to restore the pristine forest cover of Mt Japfu.
He said the devastation could have a severe impact on Dzükou Valley, adjacent to Mt Japfu. The valley is well known for its natural beauty, seasonal flowers and overall flora and fauna.
“We will request the Centre to take necessary steps for preservation and restoration of the bio-diversity rich Mt Japfu, which was devastated by the fire. This could have an impact on Dzükou Valley, which is famous for several species of flowers, including a unique bamboo species,” he said.
An estimate by National Remote Sensing Agency, Hyderabad, says nearly 50 hectares of forestland has been destroyed by the fire, which started on January 30 evening and was brought under control yesterday.
Rao said though the forest department had tried to assess the damage caused by the fire through an aerial survey, it could not be done because of fog. “We sought help from NRSA, Hyderabad,” he added.
Rao said the best technologies available in the country and air force helicopters were used to douse the fire.
“This is the first time in India that helicopters were used to combat forest fire,”Rao said.
Two Russian Mi-17 V5 helicopters, a military utility-and-combat aerial machine, that the IFA tested for the first time, were used for the operation. While one of the helicopters came from Shillong, the other came from Bagdogra. The two operated from Rangapara military base near Dimapur. The two helicopters made several sorties during the two-day operation on February 3 and 4 and managed to control the fire.
Another forest officer at Kohima said the damage to wildlife was yet to be ascertained. “It is unlikely that any animal died because of the fire as the fire started from the peak and animals managed to escape. But birds having nests could have died.”
He said a ground survey would be carried out next week. “Smoke is still billowing from the trees. We will conduct a survey only when the fire is doused completely.”