Surat Diamond Bourse faces new challenges

Diamond Watch Jewel TrendzSurat Diamond Bourse (SDB) has always been a talking point for the diamond traders as it is all set to create new opportunities and challenges for the diamond traders. While the Mumbai diamond industry is already against shifting their base from Mumbai to Surat, the latest to add to the woes is the strong opposition from local interest group opposing the land designated for the bourse.

India’s diamond-processing hub, Surat, is gearing up for a world-class diamond bourse that will not only offer a trading facility but bring all those interested in the business of the precious commodity under one roof. The proposed exchange is likely to be almost as big as Mumbai’s Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB). However, the plans for setting up the bourse has hit stumbling block as local interest groups are opposing the transfer of ownership for what is currently the preferred real estate choice of the project’s proponents according to Diamond World.

India’s diamond-processing hub, Surat, is gearing up to house a world-class diamond bourse that will not only offer a trading facility but bring all those interested in the business of the precious commodity under one roof. The proposed exchange is likely to be almost as big as Mumbai’s Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB), now said to be fully occupied. More than 2,000 people from different walks of life joined the awareness programmes held at Joggers’ Park on Sunday to protest against the state government’s decision to allot land for the bourse project.

In another protest, more than 500 people opposed the designation of land presently owned by the Navsari Agriculture University for the use of the diamond bourse gathered at Jahangirpura Cotton campus in order to register their opinions on the proposed land transfer. Leaders of the protest which included large number of farmers have put forward their own proposal.

They have noted that at the Ichhapor Jewelry Park there are a million square meters of farm land that has laid fallow for the last decade, and have suggested that this would be a better place for the Surat Diamond Bourse to be established. Reached for comment, Surat Diamond Association president Dinesh Navadiya expressed confidence that the disagreement would be resolved, according to Diamond World.

Earlier, Surat Diamond Association (SDA) had proposed to set up the new bourse in Surat, claims to have received more than 15,000 applications so far. It says it has expedited the registration of a not-for-profit company, Surat Hira Bourse, to run the exchange. Back in June, Anandiben Patel, the Chief Minister of Gujarat agreed to allot the diamond exchange project 200,000 square meters of government-owned land near the Surat Airport.

For small and medium diamantaires such as Surat-based Kirti Shah, a secondary bourse in Surat will reduce costs by a third, enabling them to invest further in their business. “Trading from the Mumbai bourse has become almost unviable for us. Our staff members, such as assorters, are unwilling to continue due to costly travel and accommodation in Mumbai. More, Surat is the hub of polished diamonds; therefore, there is a ready ecosystem available for us to function. With the money we spend on accommodation in Mumbai, we could manage accommodation and office space, and still have enough liquidity to invest in business,” says Shah.

On the other hand, diamond merchants from Belgium, Dubai, Israel and Hong Kong are keen on joining the upcoming Surat Diamond Bourse and have applied for membership. Chandrakant Sanghavi, Gujarat regional director of the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), clarified that membership of the exchange doesn’t mean Mumbai diamond traders who operate out of the Bharat Diamond Bourse have to move to Surat. “It is not mandatory. Whoever wants to shift to Surat can do it according to his own will. The exchange will help small and medium diamond units more, (those) who do not have the capability to set up shops in BDB,” said Sanghavi.

Most traders and processors are not in a position to operate from Mumbai or from BDB. “Real estate prices in Mumbai are beyond their reach… Real estate is much cheaper (in Surat), the taxation structure is favourable and the entire processing activity is concentrated (there).”