Reconstruction to be completed before Hornbill: Community leaders
KOHIMA, NOVEMBER 11: A major fire broke out at around 2:30 a.m., on Thursday at Kisama Heritage Village, and destroyed two morungs.
While the Ao morung was completely razed to the ground except for the 6 main pillars that were also charred beyond repair, the Chang Morung was saved on time and its main pillars and the priced log drum are still intact ~ however the roofing, walls and the bamboo platform were burnt in the process.
According to the memo at Fire Station, Kohima (South), it received the call about the fire at 3:24 a.m., and they reached they spot at 3:49 a.m. They took another hour and forty minutes to bring the fire under control.
While the cause of the fire could not be ascertained, the first responders have estimated that property damages incurred in the fire is to the tune of Rs 40 lakh from both the morungs and the fire fighters were able to salvage properties worth Rs. 1.5 crore.
Recounting the sequence of events, T Hongthei Phom (26 years), who along with two others from the same community were camping at the Phom morung adding final touches to their morung since Tuesday, said that he along with the Cultural Secretary of Kohima Phom Union, Longtin Phom woke up to the crackling sound of fire at around 3:15 a.m.
By this time, the fire had ravaged more than half of the Ao morung and the fire was steadily making its way to the Chang morung which is adjacent to the Phom morung, Hongthei said.
“Taking stock of the situation, we decided to at least prevent the fire from reaching the Chang morung by tearing the pipeline running parallel to our morung and douse it. In the meantime, I was also Googling the phone number of Kohima Fire station and was able to alert them about the fire at 3:24 a.m. It was just the three of us trying to put out the fire manually in the first 10 minutes, so we could not do much for the Ao morung”, he added.
The President of Kohima Ao Telongjem (KAT), Chubalepzuk who was present at the site along with other leaders of the community, said: “We have to be thankful for the quick and smart action taken by Longthei Phom and his friends for alerting the Fire Station. It was through their awareness and the quick response of the Fire Station that the fire was brought under control before ravaging the other morungs”.
The KAT President also shared his appreciation to Phesama and Kigwema villages for helping out with the cleaning process of the damaged morungs by sending volunteers in the hundreds.
“Such action from our fellow Naga community shows the love and the bond we always had”, he asserted.
Queried on how the Union is contemplating to reconstruct the morung with the Hornbill Festival not more than 3 weeks away, he said that the Ao morung will be completed before the Hornbill Festival.
KAT, in coordination with its apex body Ao Senden, has already initiated collection of resources and raw materials from its corresponding units in Mokokchung District.
The Ao morung was completely rebuilt in 2019 with the assistance of engineers of Kohima.
“We are in the process of engaging the same people for its reconstruction”, he said.
President of Chang Union Kohima, Ongli Ngaku said: “It is unfortunate that such a thing has happened with the Hornbill festival just around the corner. But we are grateful that one the main components of the morung, i.e., the logdrum, was spared from the fire and we are thankful for it”.
He also said that while the Nagaland Tourism Department has requested to at least erect a temporary morung by November 27.
They have requested the Department to provide bamboos, ropes and other essential raw materials for the task at hand.
Meanwhile, the Assistant Director of Tourism, Kakehi Sumi said that the Department has initially given Rs 1.5 lakh to all the morungs for renovation and maintenance in the run-up to the Hornbill Festival this year.
It will also give financial assistance to the Chang morung. As for the Ao community, its apex body has promised to take full responsibility of the reconstruction.
(Page News Service)