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Mock-up coal mine gallery to be opened today

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, March 6 - In a first-of-its-kind initiative in the North East, the Regional Science Centre (RSC), Guwahati has developed a mock-up coal mine gallery with an area of 2,000 square feet, enabling visitors to experience the atmosphere of a real coal mine, besides exploring the fascinating history of coal mining.

The mock-up coal mine brings to the visitor all unknown, absorbing and unique facts of the subterranean.

�Visitors can take a trip in our coal mine tour and experience the unique ambience of a real coal mine that was once the workplace for hundreds of miners. Our experienced guide will show you around the workings, explaining the methods used to mine coal past and present, while providing an insight into the working life of a miner,� Basudev Mandal, Project Coordinator, Regional Science Centre, said.

The air circulation and illumination techniques inside the mine � in spite of its great depth and extreme darkness � are presented here. One can also have an idea of the coal cutting methods � both manual and mechanical � how coal is transported out of the mine, why the tunnel does not collapse after the excavation of coal, what are the safety measures adopted, etc.

India�s commercial coal mining history dates back to 243 years starting from 1774 by M/s Sumner and Heatly of the East India Company in the Raniganj Coalfield along the western bank of river Damodar.

Coal was first discovered in Assam nearly 200 years ago, with civil surgeon Dr John Berry White playing a significant role in the early development of Assam�s mineral resources and opening of mines in Makum coalfields. Mining of coal was first started in Assam near Safrai, and systematic mining was initiated in 1882 by the Erstwhile Assam Railways & Trading Company (AR & T Co) in Makum coalfields near Margherita.

�In India, coal is the most important indigenous energy resource and remains the dominant fuel for power generation and many industrial applications. The mining of coal from surface and underground deposits today is a highly productive, mechanised operation. The history of coal mining goes back thousands of years. It became important in the Industrial Revolution of the 19th and 20th centuries, when it was primarily used to power steam engines, heat buildings and generate electricity. Coal mining continues as an important economic activity today,� Mandal said.

The coalmine gallery will be inaugurated by Keshab Mahanta, Minister of Science & Technology, Water Resources and IT tomorrow.

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