Hardik Ghoghare has been frantically scouting for a job in Varachha area of Surat ever since he was sacked by a diamond businessman.
“I have been working at a diamond unit at Katargam for the past one year where I was employed as a planner for a salary of Rs 14,000 per month. Last week, I was sacked from my job,” said 20-year-old Hardik, a native of Talaja in Saurashtra, who stays in a rented accommodation.
“I have to support the studies of my brother (a law student), and so I have been trying to get a job at nearby diamond unit. But, no job is available,” said Hardik, who has been looking for every possible avenue with his friend Sagar Munjani (19), a diamond polisher who is also left jobless amid liquidity crisis the city’s diamond industry.
Last week, Godhani Gems, among the bigger diamond units in the city, was forced to shut down leaving 1,200 diamond polishers jobless. The firm reportedly had a Rs 650-crore debt and significant land investments.
When contacted Savji Dholakia of Hari Krishna group, which had given away flats, cars and jewellery as Diwali bonuses to its employees last year, he refused to talk on the issue.
A top diamond businessman said in the last six months there had been a 50 per cent dip in the production of all major diamond polishing units. Surat is said to polish eight of the 10 rough diamonds in the world, and has a Rs 90,000-crore diamond polishing industry.
Stories of job losses due to the slump are abound in the diamond markets of Varachha, Katargam, Punagam and Mahidherpura, where an estimated 4,000 units employ 3.5-4 lakh workers. “Due to a lack in demand for polished diamonds, there is a significant drop in the amount of rough diamonds that are imported for polishing from Africa nations, Russia, Canada, Australia and Indonesia,” said Dinesh Navadiya, president, Surat Diamond Association.
High prices of rough diamonds, coupled with lack of finance options — especially for smaller units — and poor demand from Chinese market are all adding to the woes of the diamond industry in Surat, which cuts and polishes 80 per cent of the rough diamonds that come to India.
Bigger diamond firms like Sanghavi Exports are also feeling the heat of the “recession”. “Our sales in India are down by 20 per cent. We have also reduced importing rough diamonds. Though our workforce has not been affected so far, we have stopped giving works to smaller units,” said Aagam Sanghavi, director of Sanghavi Exports.
According to GJEPC, rough diamonds imported in India between April-May 2015 were worth about Rs 17,040 crore — a drop of 20 per cent when compared with Rs 21,135 crore during the same period last year.