With thousands of diamond polishers being laid off due to a recession of sorts in the diamond cutting and polishing industry in Surat, the Gems and Jewellery Association of the United States has expressed interest in providing financial help to the families of such workers.
Around 5 lakh diamond polishers work in 3,500 small, medium and large diamond factories in Surat city, out of which around 6,000 of them have been laid off as many factories had to reduce their production. Diamond polishers’ salaries have also gone down.
The Gems and Jewellery Association members of the US recently contacted their Surat counterparts to find out how they could help diamond polishers who had been laid off. One Nitin Patel, who is a member of the GJA and a businessman dealing in polished diamonds, came down to Surat few days ago, and held a meeting with known diamond merchants in Surat.
A committee of six city-based diamond merchants, Nilesh Bodki, Vipul Sasapara, Kapil Shiroya, Purnesh Dhakesha, Sunil Dabhi and Jatin Kakadiya, was formed to identify possible beneficiaries. Along with GJA member Nitin Patel, the committee held a meeting with the Surat Diamond Association and Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council Gujarat region Chairman Dinesh Navadia for the purpose.
Each committee member formed teams comprising at least 15 people, who visited various residential societies in Varachha, Katargam, Kapodara, Punagam area in Surat and identified diamond polishers who lost their jobs, and noted down their details.
Speaking to The Indian Express, committee member Nilesh Bodki said, “GJA member NItin Patel wanted help to be given to actual beneficiaries, so we have taken the responsibility (of identifying those in need).” He said although Nitin Patel had gone back to the US, he was in regular touch with the committee.
“We have printed forms to collect details of the diamond polishers and their family members. In the form, we have different sections such as grocery items, medical help and school fees for their children,” Bodki said. He said they would identify wholesalers of groceries and pay them directly for purchases made by the beneficiaries. “Similarly, school fees will be directly deposited in the school and medical bills will be directly paid to the hospital,” he added.
He said that the GJA had set apart Rs 50 lakh to help the families of laid-off diamond polishers. “In the past three days, we have started sending out teams in several areas with the forms, and till today over 200 forms have been filled,” said Bodki. “There are many people in the diamond industry who have come forward and expressed interest to work with us.”