Over one lakh diamond polishers in Surat have left the city to their native places after the nationwide lockdown was imposed in the wake of coronavirus outbreak.
Surat Diamond Association president Babubhai Katheriya said, “Around 1.50 lakh diamond polishers had left Surat city till today and still it continues. We feel that these diamond polishers don’t want to spend time in the room and even their outside movements were restricted. They also have to pay the rent and mess charges. With no work in Surat, they decided to back to their villages.’
According to the Surat Diamond Association sources, there are around 5000 small, big and middle size diamond factories in Surat which have more than 6 lakh diamond workers.
Most of these diamond polishers are from Amreli, Bhavnagar and Jungadh districts in Surashtra.
On March 23, some of the factory owners had paid these polishers a part of their salaries and told them that the factories will remain open till the situation turns normal.
However, on the next day, when the lockdown was announced, those diamond polishers staying alone in the city started leaving to their native places. Following this, other diamond polishers staying with their families also started leaving the city to Saurashtra.
“These diamond workers go on their bikes, some hires car and go with their families while others travel on foot to Kamrej from Varachha and travel in the tempos and other vehicles they get at the highway,” Katheriya added.
Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council Gujarat Chairman Dinesh Navadia said, “We have made appeal to the diamond polishers not to go home. Such a mass migration will adversely affect the industry. The schools are also closed. So they don’t want to stay in the city. If the situation turns normal in coming days and the lock down is removed, the industry will face a deadlock of work force and it may continue for couple of months.”
Diamond workers’ union president Ranmal Jikeiriya said, “We have come to know that some of the diamond factory owners had not given salaries to the diamond polishers. It becomes difficult for them to stay in a rented place and to meet day-to-day expenses including food.”
He further said, “We have demanded the state government to declare relief package for the diamond polishers. They had left Surat city with whatever savings they had to meet the expenses during the journey to their native places.”
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