New Delhi: The South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL), a subsidiary of Coal India, has decided to develop its closed Manikpur Pokhri open-cast coal mine in Chhattisgarh's Korba district as an eco-tourism spot, a company official said on Sunday.
This will be the second such project in the state after a similar mine in neighbouring Surajpur district was developed into a tourist spot.
The SECL along with Municipal Corporation Korba will spend more than Rs 11 crores to develop Manikpur Pokhari mine into an eco-tourism destination and the company has already released Rs 5.60 crore to Korba Collector for the purpose, SECL spokesperson Sanish Chandra said.
Mining in Manikpur Pokhri, one of the first mines in Korba district, started in 1966 with Russian technical consultation. About 24 years later, during the excavation, groundwater source was discovered there and the inflow of water was so much that it could not be drained out even with the help of motor pumps etc. and finally the mine had to be closed, he said.
Spread over an area of more than 8 hectares, the mine, which has taken the form of lake, will now be converted into an eco-tourism site with various facilities for tourists such as boating, floating restaurant/cafeteria, garden in the Pokhari complex, selfie zone, children's play area, climbing wall, repelling wall, zipline roller coaster, musical fountain and others, he said.
With this project, the people of Korba district will not only get a new tourist destination, but it will also provide new sources of livelihood for the people, he added.
Notably, about 16 percent of the national coal production comes from Korba district and it has coal power plants of about 6,428 MW capacity.
Not only the country but Asia's largest coal mines are located here, Chandra said.
Coal India has been working on a plan to convert closed/abandoned mines into ecotourism sites across the country, so that not only these mines are becoming popular as tourist places but they are also providing employment to the local people, he said.
Earlier, the closed mine at Kenapara in Surajpur district of the state was developed by SECL as an eco-tourism site where today tourists come from far and wide to enjoy boating and other activities, he said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also praised this tourist destination through a tweet, he added.