GUWAHATI: The Indian Air Force (IAF) is undertaking a complex operation as it is trying to douse the wildfire in the ecologically-sensitive Dzukou Valley on the Nagaland-Manipur border.
The operation involves complex calculations and skilled flying for the pilots. The fire is raging at different pockets of both states despite efforts being made by multiple agencies.
A gust and difficult terrain is only one problem for the pilots. With the help of Bambi Buckets, the IAF pilots are lifting thousands of litres of water from a water body in Nagaland's Dimapur district and making sorties for 15-20 minutes before they reach the site of wildfire that has wreaked havoc in the "Valley of Flowers".
A retired IAF pilot told The New Indian Express: "The practical difficulties will be precision dropping of water. Since it is a hilly region and there is air turbulence, steady flying will not be easy. It's a difficult operation."
Four IAF helicopters are engaged in dousing the fire. The IAF's help was sought by the Nagaland government. Forty-eight personnel of the National Disaster Response Force were airlifted from Guwahati on Friday for deployment at the site.
Two days ago, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh stated that the fire had crossed Mount ASIi, the highest peak in the state.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah is taking stock of the situation. He assured Singh of all assistance from the Centre. Singh had requested the Army and the Assam Rifles to extend their help in controlling the inferno which broke out four days ago.
In Nagaland, the authorities are trying to control the blaze through traditional "fire line cutting". Personnel from the State Disaster Response Force, police and forest departments besides volunteers are deployed to the site.
The Dzukou Valley is known for its natural environment, seasonal flowers, and flora and fauna and is a popular tourist destination.