Life Skill Lessons

Both the Government machinery and the people who run it including the general public of Nagaland would have learnt a thing or two from the recent incident in which large tracts of pristine forest cover in the Dzukou Valley was left burning for days on end without any response, neither from the government, the NGOs nor from the local media. The media (including this news-daily) appeared to be sleeping over the matter and it was only after Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had send an SOS communiqué to New Delhi did the local media wake up, but that too not completely. 

However, The Morung Express with whatever limitation it had (the difficulty to get access to credible information) was able to throw light on the Dzukou story and more so in a manner commensurate with the sense of urgency that the news itself demanded. Here, one of the questions that ought to prick the conscience of the local media is whether a quicker response on its part could have made the situation a little better, in terms of generating a timely response from the government and getting the required logistical support put in place on the ground.

While it needs to be appreciated that the State Government with whatever limitations it has to work under, has been putting in the much needed effort to bring the situation under control. However, the Dzukou fire incident should also be taken as an opportunity for the State government to honestly assess its own level of preparedness to deal with such incidents in future. The government should take a more serious approach to put in place an in-built disaster management system that is able to respond appropriately in a holistic manner to any given situation. Several workshops, seminars and trainings on disaster management were conducted last year with much fanfare and media hype. Whether or not they will have the desirous impact on real life disasters, though still remains to be seen. 

One specific suggestion is to give the overall responsibility of Disaster Management to the State Police force under the command of either the Director General of Police or a IPS Officer who is well trained (or would have to undergo such a training) in the doctrine of Disaster mitigation. The police force remains the only viable option as it has some inherent advantages to take on this role. It is highly unlikely for a normal government apparatus to be able to cope with the challenges involved in such tasks which is itself in the nature of a combat operation requiring quick response. Traditional government rules and regulations may only put more obstacles in mitigation efforts. 

The fire accident at Dzukou valley is all the more tragic given that environmental concerns or the lack of it among the people are nowhere the level of awareness that is expected. If reports in the media hold true the inferno was not so much a case of nature spewing its venom on a helpless man but rather man with his inept sense facilitating the destruction of Mother Nature. A holistic awareness campaign on safe environment practice needs to be taken up on a priority basis by the government. The government should also use the occasion of the Year of Farmers to urgently disseminate information capsule (in the respective local dialects) on safe farming methodology so that Naga farmers who are closest to nature are able to live in harmony with nature while enjoying the benefits therein.