Marange diamonds boon for India

SURAT With imports of low-range rough diamonds from Zimbabwe expected to soar, its going to rain jobs in Surat, the worlds largest cutting and polishing centre, this year.

According to industry estimates, at least 60 000 workers will be required in Surat as this is the only centre in India that specialises in cutting and polishing rough diamonds from the African countrys Marange mines.

The impact will also be felt in cutting centres of Ahmedabad which often get the spillover from Surat.
Dinesh Navadia, president of Surat Diamond Association (SDA) said: The small cutting centres like Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar and Amreli will also get the benefit of increase in employment due to the flow of Zimbabwe diamonds.

Many units outsource cutting and polishing work to these small centres as well.

At present, 40 000 workers are employed in Surats nearly 3 500 cutting and polishing units.

The industry is expected to import $1,5 billion worth of roughs from Zimbabwe this year.

After laying off thousands during the global meltdown in 2008, most of the big, small and medium diamond manufacturers in the city are head-hunting for fresh and skilled talent from Saurashtra region.

Many are even offering incentives like referral awards to those workers who help bring in new talent while the wages have also gone up by at least 10%.

I need at least 50 more workers and I have started searching for skilled polishers from my native Gadhada in Bhavnagar district.

My inventory of roughs has increased due to high demand of low-range polished goods in the retail markets of India, China, Hong Kong and the Middle East, said Harshad Vekaria, who owns a diamond manufacturing unit in Varachha employing 150 polishers.

We believe that the flow of Zimbabwe diamonds will create over 60 000 jobs in the Surat industry.

Zimbabwe diamonds are cheaper than those from other mining countries and manufacturers in Surat have a win-win situation, said Sanjay Kothari, vice-chairman of Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council.

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