Wildfire at lower ridge of Shirui Kashong:Wake up call to everyone
Not as devastating as the recent bushfire at Australia, but the report that the lower ridge of Shirui Kashong, known as Sarum Kateng located above Vangayan-Shirui Lily Heritage Centre-should serve as the wake up call to everyone. It is still not yet known how the fire started, but it could have taken a heavy toll, if it had spread. Shirui Kashong is the home of the world famous Shirui Lily and the time has come for all concerned to come to terms with the point that the fire at the lower ridge of Shirui Kashong testifies the conflict between man and nature. Visitors to Shirui village need to be educated on the need to protect the environment and obviously the lead should come from the villagers themselves. January is not exactly the time for Shirui Kashong to attract visitors but winter is usually the time when Shirui Kashong used to attract a number of people who go up the hills to catch the migratory birds which used to come in hordes. The decreasing number of birds which come to Shirui Kashong should have been the moment for all concerned to acknowledge that the decreasing number of the annual visitors to Shirui Kashong is a sure sign of climate change. The loss incurred in the fire should be worked out and the responsibility of saving the forests and the hills of Shirui should be borne by all and not only the Government Department concerned. Youth organisations of Shirui village also need to keep a strict check on the visitors so that they do not defile mother nature at Shirui Kashong.
The cause of the fire should be also found so that measures can be taken up to ensure that such a fire does not repeat in the future. It is not yet known how many animals were killed in the blazing inferno but there is every likelihood that many could have perished and this is where a deep study is needed to ensure that such a tragedy does not recur in the future. In many ways Shirui Kashong identifies the place and this is the home of the one and only Shirui Lily. What are the steps that the Government can and should take up ? There are noted environmentalists in the State and their suggestions and inputs should be sought and taken seriously. Visitors to Shirui Kashong should also be sensitised to the need to preserve the environment, particularly during the Shirui Lily Festival. Hundreds if not thousands do attend the Shirui Lily Festival and this is where intensive care should be taken up to ensure that no one litters the place. For starters, ban any visitor from carrying plastics to the hills. Smoking too should be banned on Shirui Kashong and heavy fines may be imposed on those who violate the restrictions. The fire has been put out, thanks to the joint efforts of the Forest Department, local youth and the village authority of Shirui village, but more efforts need to be taken up ensure that nothing similar occurs. The report that the fire started at the foot of Kashong should be an eye opener to all.