Some diamond companies in Mumbai are rethinking the proposal to invest in a new cutting and polishing centre in Surat as this could upset business operations that have been developed over the decades.
"There has been discussion and deliberation, but most of us will not vote for the new address," said a member of the Gem and Jewellery Council. "Some say that doing business at the Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) in Bandra is expensive, but one must understand that Mumbai is an international city which helps dealing with international clients. It is also the biggest diamond market in Asia."
The diamond business in India is facing tough competition from China and Israel in terms of volume and quality.
Sanjay Shah, a diamond merchant said, "Those who have offices in BDB have spent Rs5,000-Rs7,000 a sq ft to set up operations here and nearly Rs10,000 crore has been spent on furniture in the 18 lakh sq ft office area."
The BDB centre has 2,500 offices on an area of 60 acres. The proposed centre in Surat will be ten times bigger.
Shah pointed out that the business is based on trust. "What will happen to the people who have been working for us for years? We hardly change employees and we cannot afford to lose trustworthy people just to save on maintenance cost," Shah said.
But Vallabhbhai Patel of Kiran Gems explains that the main reason for the proposed shift to Surat is accessibility. "Those who have regular dealing with the process industry based in Surat will choose the new destination. This provides security for transfer of goods which is a problem in Mumbai. Nearly 90 per cent of diamond cutting and polishing is done in Surat," said Patel.
One diamond merchant explained that many companies that were operating in the Zaveri Bazar area, in south Mumbai, started moving to BDB after the bomb blasts that happened in the area in 2011. However, most would choose to stay put in the city as they depend on the more than 15,400 jewellers for their business.