Most of the diamond polishing units are largely situated in and around the areas of Katargam and Varachha in Surat
which have seen a spike in Covid cases.
Already 10 units have voluntarily closed so far. However, post the meeting between industry representatives and civic authorities including municipal commissioner and mayor, fresh norms will be incorporated to safeguard workers, unit owners and their families.
For instance, if a diamond polishing unit operates from more than floor in a building and if a Covid case is detected in one floor then that floor will be shut and quarantined for a week. "But if three or more cases are detected in a single floor then the entire unit will be shut for a week for institutional quarantine. Also all centrally air-conditioned units have to keep themselves ventilated as much as possible. And every worker should be served herbal tea and hot water frequently," Navadia added.
The spike in cases in Surat
diamond industry comes at a time when the industry has seen roughly 200,000 workers resume work with the industry operating at 50 per cent capacity. Under the new norms, only two workers instead of previous four will be stationed at each table for polishing diamonds.
While Surat may have taken such steps, overall the gems and jewellery industry is going by guidelines of the respective states and cities, said the newly appointed chairman of GJEPC Colin Shah.
The diamond industry had voluntarily discontinued rough diamond imports for the whole month of June in order to stabilise prices that had begun seeing lot of volatility. According to Shah, with demand levels still at 30-40 per cent, inventory of rough diamonds
with the industry lying since the beginning of the lockdown
in March will get cleared by second quarter of the current fiscal 2020-21.
"The discontinuance of imports has helped in controlling volatility in pricing which are now steady," he added.
Navadia said that with $2.3 billion of rough diamonds
inventory lying with the industry, it would take another 2-3 months to service previous orders. "There are also financial constraints in the industry and payments are not happening. In such a scenario, importing more rough diamonds will not make sense in the interim," Navadia added.