Govt package sans glitter: Diamond workers to take to streets today

Just two days after the state government announced a package for the diamond industry,the unhappy workers are set to raise their voices again.

Written by Express News Service | Rajkot | Published:March 3, 2009 12:06 am

Just two days after the state government announced a package for the diamond industry,the unhappy workers are set to raise their voices again.

On Tuesday,members of the 42 diamond associations,under the umbrella of Gujarat Diamond Federation,will stage dharnas in front of the offices of the district collectors across the state.

The government had announced a two-per cent waiver in farm loan interest to diamond workers who are into agriculture. It had also initiated

seminars to provide them alternate employment as mechanics,weavers and workers in powerlooms,jewellery and embroidery units. The diamond workers were also eligible for a stipend of Rs 2,500 per month.

According to Lalit Thummar,president of the newly formed Gujarat Diamond Federation,the package does not meet the actual problems and needs of the workers. Besides,it is also a case of ‘too little and too late’,he said.

Thummar said only 15,000 of the 20 lakh diamond workers across Gujarat will be covered under the training and stipend programme. Besides,the government’s idea to provide training in jewellery making doesn’t make much sense.

“When there is no demand for diamond,how can one expect customers for jewellery in the slowdown period?” he added.

He said the government’s announcement to provide a two-per cent interest waiver on agricultural loans to farmers will also not be of much help,as only one per cent of diamond workers are associated with agriculture or have land. Dharnas will now be held simultaneously across the state,Thummar said.

The Gujarat Diamond Federation has been formed involving unit owners and workers. Thummar,who is the president of the Amreli Diamond Association,has been elected its first president.

Demand List
What Gujarat Diamond Federation expects from the government

* Temporary Below Poverty Line (BPL) cards

* Benefits in housing schemes

* 50 per cent relaxation in electricity bill to units

* Free service in public bus

* Free education and text books to children of diamond polishers

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