Surat diamond units to shut for a week as Covid-19 spread in ‘Hira Bazaar’

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on June 22, 2020

Workers at one of the oldest and largest diamond polishing units of Surat checking the dazzle of the precious stones (file picture)   -  THE HINDU

Since the beginning of Unlock-1 over 200 diamond workers test positive for coronavirus

After over two months of lockdown due to Covid-19 outbreak, the Surat’s diamond industry was slowly trying to resume work under ‘Unlock-1’, but the sparkle failed to return to this highly labour-oriented industry. So far in the month of June, more than 200 diamond workers in Surat’s densely constructed ‘Hira bazaar’ have tested positive for coronavirus.

Shaken by the sudden spike in the Covid-19 infections in its workforce, the industry has rushed to implement a complete shutdown of all diamond units for next one week.

Dinesh Navadia, Vice-President, South Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SGCCI) appealed to all the diamond unit owners in Surat’s diamond market to shutdown for a week to stop further spread of the coronavirus among the diamond workers.

“We have observed that recently, Covid-19 cases have been rising among the diamond workers and people associated with diamond industry. This may pose a serious risk to other people and families of diamond industry. Therefore, we have appealed to all the small and big diamond unit owners to observe a complete shutdown of business for a week,” Navadia said.

Notably, as per the Gujarat Heath Department’s Covid-19 bulletin, Surat has been reporting over 100 cases for past three days. On Sunday it added record 176 new cases.

So far, the district has reported total around 3,329 cases with death toll at 135 as on Monday, June 22.

Noted diamantaire Savji Dholakia informed that about 80 per cent of the diamond workforce has returned from their native places after Unlock-1.

“Most of them were from Saurasthra so about 75-80 per cent workforce has returned to Surat. But we don’t have enough work to offer to them due to demand slowdown in domestic and international market. However, big units are still managing to clear their pending orders which were stalled due to sudden lockdown in March. But in absence of fresh orders for Christmas or New Year, there is a gloomy scenario ahead,” Dholakia said.

Navadia, who is also chairman of Gujarat Region for Gems & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), informed that the demand outlook is bleak considering the economic impact on the countries. “Diamond industry is dependent on the international market. The exports are taking place for past one month. What we see is that consignments are going to Hong Kong. The industry is taking all these risk to retain their workers and provide them livelihood. It is not possible to keep the industry shut for a longer period,” Navadia said.

But the smaller business units, which are not directly connected with the international market and have their business directed through Mumbai market, are facing tough times. “Unless the diamond market in Mumbai returns to normalcy, these small players will have no respite,” said Navadia.

Published on June 22, 2020

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