Surat Diamond Factories in Peril as Half the Workforce Goes HomeMay 20, 20
Many of Surat's diamond factories will not survive COVID-19, industry sources have warned, as India's went into "Lockdown 4.0".
As many as 90 per cent of the city's 5,000 units are small, unregistered and vulnerable. They're also less able to implement any kind of social distancing rules, likely to be implemented when lockdown eases.
The nature of cutting and polishing typically needs four workers to operate in close proximity.
As India re-extends lockdown to 31 May, an exodus of unpaid migrant artisans is under way, as they return to their villages in Gujurat.
An estimated 300,000 workers have already boarded trains home, and the Gujurat government is laying on buses for another 150,000.
That amounts to over half of the city's 750,000 diamond workers and makes the eventual resumption of work an even bigger challenge.
Many diamond units are in the Varaccha, Katargam, Punagam and Mahidharpur areas of Surat, where coronavirus cases are daily being confirmed.
In addition, diamond trade bodies are urging members to sign up for a voluntary embargo on rough imports, so they can sell existing inventory rather than producing new goods.
The month-long ban, originally scheduled to start on 15 May, has now been put back to 1 June.