The Surat diamond industry has faced a loss of around Rs 600 crore in January this year as the major export destinations such as the United States, Hong Kong and China are grappling with coronavirus outbreak.
Surat has the highest number of diamond polishers – around 5 lakh work in around 4,500, small, medium and big diamond factories.
Chairman of Gujarat unit of the Gem Jewellery Export Promotion Council, Dinesh Navadia said, “The rough diamonds are cut and polished at the small, medium and big factories in Surat. They are then sold in the local markets here. Traders buy these diamonds and sell them in Mumbai, from where these are exported to different foreign countries.”
India exports around 38% diamond to US, 37% to Hong Kong and around 8% to China. While business with Hong Kong has gone down by 10 per cent, with China around 50 per cent, Navadia said.
“Following the coronavirus outbreak, markets in Hong Kong and China declared vacation till March 17. However, considering the present situation, it will take at least a couple of months for them to open their markets.”
According to figures produced by GJEPC, polished diamond worth Rs 11,757 crore was exported this January, while in January 2019, India did business of Rs 12,365 crore. The figures for February this year is not yet available.
Polished diamond worth Rs 1,14,982 crore was exported between April 2019 and January 2020, while between April 2018 and January 2019, the number was Rs 1,36,942 crore.
With no major demands, some of the companies have cut short their production and even reduced the numbers of working hours for employees.
Owner of Shree Ram Krishna Exports, Govind Dholakia said, “We have come to know that some companies have put discounts on solitaire polished diamonds. This might be because they are facing liquidity problems. We are also into online business and it has been severely hit by the coronavirus outbreak. We hope the situation improves soon.”
A diamond factory owner, on condition of anonymity, said, “Due to this virus scare, diamond traders are not purchasing more diamonds. We are facing a huge loss as a result of which it has become difficult to run the business. Many polishers have already left.”
PIL filed at Gujara HC, seeks formation of task force to tackle outbreak
In the wake of the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, a petition has been moved at the Gujarat High Court (HC) seeking its direction for the formation of a task force to analyse the preparedness and “make effective action plans for the same”.
The petition, which was filed on March 5 by a second-year law student of Institute of Law, Nirma University Pruthvirajsinh Gohil, remains to be registered owing to office objections at present.
The PIL that concerns with the status of Ahmedabad city, has pointed out that though a Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued an advisory to all schools that gatherings should be avoided, “it is highly ironic to say that regular teaching in schools/colleges/universities have not been discontinued, yet gatherings of student is expected to be avoided,” the petition states.
The PIL has sought the court’s direction to the respondents which includes the state’s health department, for immediate and proactive action to prevent the spread of COVID-2019 across the state of Gujarat; while creating mass awareness and stock up all necessary supplies.
The PIL has also sought that the court be informed of the steps taken towards containment and preparedness and has also sought the court’s
direction to suspend public gatherings and discontinue regular classes in educational institutes.
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