Dr. Gunakar Das
05 June 2021
Dr. Gunakar Das, an Associate Professor of Science in Kolasib Government College, Mizoram
and associated with many Science organizations
have prepared this brief report on recent Mizoram Wild Fire from Ground Zero...
During 25 – 27 April, 2021 outbreak of wildfire was reported (via WhatsApp and local newspapers) in the following places in Mizoram:
1)Lunglei town suburbs,
2) Dawngzawl of serchhip District,
3) South Vanlaiphai,
5) North Vanlaiphai,
14) Ngengpui rah,
17) Bungtlang South,
25) Phawngpui Tlang,
and may be, some more.
As lockdown has been imposed due to surcharge of Covid 19, I personally could not move to Lunglei. So, the reporting I have made here are based on various local explanations for the outbreak of wildfire in various places of Lunglei, Mizoram, in the last week of April. I have gone through all reporting available on newspapers and social media that I could come across. Leaving aside wild speculations based on religion and all sorts of political accusations, etc., I am putting forward the following theories of explanation, to throw a light on the matter.
Of the various theories that have been put forward, the following may be mentioned :
Theories put forward by Mr.C.L.Hranga :
An essential part of the process of Jhum cultivation is to burn the cut down trees and grass as land preparation for cultivation. The State government has mandated that cultivation-land must be burnt before 15th March every year, the reason being the favourable condition for avoiding unnecessary spread of fire. Some cultivators, in violation of the order, had burnt their land well after 15th March.
Since a few years back the state government has designated a place for dumping garbage for all villages, towns, and cities. Unlike in other states these dumping grounds are not covered with cemented walls. Hence, a spark could result in fire outbreak.
For many years it has been the practice of hunters to surround wild animals with fire so as to easily shoot them down.
Source: C.L. Hranga of New Siaha is a government employee, a regular contributor to "Mizo Special Report", a Facebook group.
Mr. Hriata Chhangte has put forward the following theories:
In compliance with the COVID-19 SOP issued by the state government all churches across the state were closed on Sunday, the 25th April, the day wildfire broke out in various places of Mizoram. On this day men in these places had gone on hunting spree. Due to their carelessness, there was an outbreak of wildfire, suggesting they could have dropped burning cigarette butts or created fire to surround wild animals.
It could have been caused by leakages of natural gas. He stated that as per the data available with the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), New Delhi, 21,087 sq.km (i.e., 60%) of Mizoram is estimated to have deposits of hydrocarbon (or natural gas). Therefore, the DGH has divided the whole of Mizoram into three (3) blocks, each of which has been allotted to three companies for oil exploration through international tender. The southern block had gone to the Reliance Industries Limited & Co. which had already given up the work. The Oil India Limited & Co (OIL) had completed 4 exploratory wells in the Central block, but without any positive findings. The ONGC has completed 5 exploratory wells, out of which the one at Meidum village yielded positive result. In spite of these failures, satellite imagery of Mizoram shows that hydrocarbon deposits are available in Mizoram. So, due to the condition of earth layers – weak zones/cracks – there could have been leakages of natural gas. A concentration of natural gas of 5-15% (i.e., 5-15 litres of gas in a 100 litres of air) is highly combustible, which could have been ignited by a small and random spark.
Source : Hriata Chhangte is a Mining engineer who had retired a few years ago from the post of Deputy Controller of Mines at Indian Bureau of Mines, Nagpur. He is a regular contributor to the Facebook group called, "Mizo Special Report"
In the meantime, a high level team has been constituted by the Government of Mizoram, to investigate the matter & very soon detailed reports may be available from ground zero.