First-ever mining tourism project gives a cutting edge to Vidarbha – by Vinita Chaturvedi (Times of India – December 17, 2016)

It all started in November 2015 when Western Coalfields Limited opened its mines for the tourists in Maharashtra, a concept that was visualised in March 2015. And now, a year down the line, it will be taken to the next level as WCL and Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation get ready to sign a memorandum of understanding tomorrow in the presence of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and tourism minister Jaykumar Rawal. We track its far-reaching implications…

General manager of MTDC, Swati Kale shares, “Mining tourism that is popular in countries like Chile and Australia, is a novel concept for India. We are sure, along with a lot of Indian tourists, it would also attract several foreign tourists. This tie-up with WCL will put Vidarbha on world tourism map.”

This is the first ever eco-mining project in India, shares the managing director of WCL, Rajiv Ranjan Mishra. He goes on to add, “We have opened two mines for tourists — opencast mine at Gondegaon and underground mine at Saoner.

There is a viewpoint at opencast mine, from where the tourists get to see the mining operations below. But they are not allowed to go down because we have to follow the safety provisions made in Mines Safety Act. At the underground mine, tourists are allowed till the first stage.”

Mining tourism is just one of the novel concepts, there is more to come next year, shares Swati. She goes on to add, “This is just the beginning. The CM has already announced 2017 as Visit Maharashtra Year. There are so many new festivals, concepts and plans that will make the new year even more special.”

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