First time in India, WCL undertakes unique mines tourism project


Lakhs of visitors visit eco-park and experience thrill of coal mine adventure  

Chronicle Reporter, Bhopal The Saoner Mine No. 1 of Western Coalfields Limited (WCL) is the country’s first mine to be developed as mines tourism. Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised it in ‘Mann ki Baat’. It is situated about 43 kilometer from Nagpur in Saoner tehsil and became operational in March 1984. The tourists are taken about 1.5 km underground from the start point. WCL officials tell everything including history of production of coal, technique of detecting the coal reserve and its production. Awareness camps are conducted on both sides of the mine for the tourists. However, people above the age of 18 and below 50 years are allowed inside the mine. You may have heard about coal mines or even seen one from outside but it is unlikely that you may have gone inside to see what is the internal scene inside an underground mine. To pacify the people’s curiosity and their conception about coal mining, they have to descend into the underground coal mine through a lift chair. It is thrilling to get inside the cave like mine with water flowing with a rippling sound. WCL has purified the mining water and played an important role in making it available for consumption by all as ‘Coal Neer’. During mining tourism, the tourists are shown how water is taken out, how coal is brought to the ground surface and how mining is done in dangerous and challenging circumstances and how miners work amidst unforeseen risks and insufficient oxygen. The eco-park situated between the mines is a unique initiative which creates balance in the eco-system and playing pivotal role in developing scientific thinking among children. The eco-park has been developed over the mine on the ground surface. A replica of scientific experiments, waves of sea and mines has been prepared. A toy train is being run for a tour of the entire region. The tour of the entire eco-park can be undertaken. Prepared according to a rural background, the food and entertainment facilities are available in the eco-park. Besides there are rock climbing, swings, weight lifting instruments, bio-toilets etc in the eco-park. A model of water harvesting system, which runs through solar panel, has also been prepared. A team of scribes recently visited the mine and tried to learn about the mines tourism. Among those present on the occasion included WCL Nagpur area’s regional general manager DM Gokhle, general manager (personnel) and public relations Iqbal Singh, deputy regional manager RS Singh, assistant manager (public relations) Dr. Manoj Kumar, assistant manager (PR) SP Singh and assistant manager (CD/personnel) Avinash Reddy. They explained in detail about the eco-park and underground mines and everyone expressed pleasure on meeting the miners and invisible warriors who bring light to the nation from the darkness in the depth of the earth.