Nagpur: Western Coalfields Limited (WCL), a Miniratna Coal PSU under the Ministry of Coal, is not only fulfilling the energy demand of the country but also taking proactive steps towards environmental protection. In it's a novel initiative, WCL has introduced 'Eco-Mine Tourism' with an aim of dispelling notions of pollution and environmental degradation related to coal and mining operations in India. Under this "Eco-Mine Tourism" programme, WCL conducts tours of two operational coal mines—Saoner underground mine and Gondegaon open cast mine, 45 km and 30 km away, respectively, from Nagpur, Maharashtra. It's a one of a kind initiative to give people a chance to see how coal mining is actually done, understand sophisticated mining methods and machinery and to experience the conditions in which workers put in precious man-hours. Also, an Eco-Park has been created in between these two locations where tourists can be enjoyed nature and also learn about the mining environment before entering into the real mines.
Eco-Park an Eco-Mine tourism initiative
Eco-Park was developed connecting fragments of open unused land into a comprehensive network to spread understanding about the mining industry while conserving ecology. The park is itself situated on the surface of Saoner underground Mine-1 and surrounded by 3 others mines in close vicinity. The park was inaugurated on November 26, 2015, by Union Minister (That time) of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari and presided over by Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Coal and New Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal and Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizers Hansraj Ahir.
The park is often visited by high ranking officials, bureaucrats and public figures from different organisations along with mine tourists on a regular basis and appreciated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his radio programme- "Mann ki Baat" on March 27, 2016.
Salient features of ECO-PARK
Eco-park has several equipments such as a scientific fountain, scientific swing, ocean pool, etc made using applied physics laws, made in-house by WCL workmen using mine scrap material. The equipment apart from providing aesthetic beauty to the park, are also a source for inculcating scientific temperament in the visitors. The park is also a first of its kind endeavour to promote ecological balance by using mine water in the park. It boasts of a pristine landscape preserving most of the natural forest in its original shape with the addition of several plants and trees including medicinal plants, bamboo plantations and a flower garden.
Thee park showcases several demonstrable technologies such as Solar electrification of the water pump, Rainwater harvesting, micro-irrigation, etc. along with a science park and several adventure rides such as rope chair, Lakshman Jhula, rope climbers, toy train, an open gym etc. The park also has an artificial mine tunnel showcasing different mining job profiles, mining machinery and methods used.
The park produces its own organic honey and vermicompost and provides training to the farmers on the same from the surrounding villages at free of cost. The packaging materials of the organic products are procured from a special school in Saoner where children with speech and hearing challenges make them.
WCL collaborated with Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) to provide a boost to mine tourism concept. The bookings and marketing of the concept are being done by MTDC. The mine tour in a full-day tour from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM.
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