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Factors for frequent infernos in Ukhrul studied
Source: The Sangai Express / Mungchan Zimik

Ukhrul, March 05 2020: Even though Ukhrul town has become prone to fire outbreak, no one has yet given a deep thought on why infernos have become so common leading to loss of lives and properties worth crores of rupees in the hilly town.

Prevention of outbreak of fire primarily rests on the premise 'careful handling' .

And careful handling may not necessarily be confined to a particular factor but preserving the environment by avoiding litting fire indiscriminately in the wild is important.

Trees act as wind breakers and this consequently checks and reduces wind speed, thereby negating one important factor for rapid spread of fire.

The slower the fire spreads, the better the chances fire fighters have to put the inferno under control.



Factors for frequent infernos in Ukhrul studied
Factors for frequent infernos in Ukhrul studied


Ukhrul district is situated on lofty hills and the town is perched atop the hill ranges at an elevation of about 1800 metres above sea level, with a population of 60,000-70,000 within a 4.5 km radius.

The town was surrounded by thick rainforests in the past.

These trees acted as wind breakers in the past, but rampant deforestation for timber extraction, land development, rapid urbanization etc has deformed the land mass of Ukhrul town in the past few decades.

Ukhrul Fire station has recorded 18 fire incident within 14 months (from 2019-2020), out of which 15 incidents which occurred in Ukhrul town destroyed properties worth crores of rupees and a minor girl was charred to death at Hungpung village.

The Department also informed that fire incidents in Ukhrul have almost tripled in the past few years.

Sensitisation on safety use of fire to the people of Ukhrul needs to be intensified, they said.

Mock drill on disaster management, pamphlet distribution, fire safety measures etc were organised occasionally in the town by Ukhrul fire station.

At the same time, the harmful impact of deforestation has been spread to the people but with not much results.

During an interaction, Hunphun VA secretary Worngam Muirang told this correspondent that there were traditional methods to check or prevent fire outbreaks in the past.

According to him, one of the duties of VAs during dry season was to regularly check the forest preserved area called Meiyan adding that "a community reserves forest area, prohibits chopping of trees or setting it on fire." Anybody who violates the law were penalized befittingly as per village customary law.

He also mentioned that for every household of Hunphun village it was a must to preserve two Lengkhors (meaning a water container made from bamboo and ladder for emergency fire response).

However this culture is hardly in practice now.

He went on to mention that the Tangkhul community traditionally believes that frequent fire in the village is a clear sign of a dry year, with no rainfall and is considered a bad omen.

Worngam added that today no trees grow on the roadside with even the trees growing in the circular peripheries of the town being chopped down which is a serious concern for all.

The rapid depletion of sub-tropical rainforest in a short span has had a severe impact on spring water source, change in rainfall which might have an indirect impact on wind speed.

More than 50% of traditional water ponds in Ukhrul town are gradually drying up while some water ponds have been lost.

Worngam said that about 60-70 years back, all the houses in Ukhrul were thatched but there was no record of any severe fire outbreak.

Remote villages surrounded by thick forest today have no reports of devastating fire incidents.

(This article was written for Media Fellowship of Directorate of Environment and Climate Change) .


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