Inspired by the success of the Nagpur circuit, WCL has started a similar venture at Rajur.
Coal mines have become major tourist attractions in Maharashtra, all thanks to the changing perception which has generated interest in the life of the miners, reports BusinessLine.
The eco-friendly Mine Tourism Circuit at Saoner near Nagpur was opened two years ago and since then, footfall at the Nagpur Eco Park have crossed 1.45 lakh, according to official estimates.
Two years ago, the numbers were as low as 10,000 footfalls when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had lauded Western Coalfields Ltd (WCL) for developing the eco-friendly mine tourism site.
In his monthly address in March 2016, Modi had said, “Generally we don’t think of coal mines as places to be visited. WCL has made these same coal mines a destination for tourism.”
Modi also noted that when one sees pictures of miners, one wonders what it must be like out there. “We even have a saying, ‘coal blackens your hands’, hence people tend to stay away from coal mines,” he said.
More in the offing
Inspired by the success of the Nagpur circuit, WCL has started a similar venture at Rajur in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district. Next in the offing are sites across four more coal mines, this time in Madhya Pradesh.
Other mineral-rich states like Jharkhand are eyeing the tourism potential of their mines.
Why have coal mines become tourist attractions?
"The eco park breaks all myths that coal mining places are dirty and grim. Instead, it is raising awareness about the importance of coal mining in the country by taking tourists into the depths of the Saoner underground mine and also showcasing operations at the Gondegaon open-cast mine from a distance,” said Santhosh Kumar, Vice Chairman of Anarock Property Consultants.
As the perception is changing, tourists are getting a glimpse into the lives of coal miners.
The eco parks are part of an effort to showcase the minimal environmental impact of coal mining operations.
Tourists can visit the depths of underground mines and watch the operations at the open-cast mine from a distance.Kumar also noted that while eco-mine tourism is a novel concept in India, other countries such as the US, Australia, Canada, Norway, Japan, Finland and Bolivia, have been harnessing these resources for a while now.