Coronavirus: Most Factories in Surat Still Closed, Despite Unlock 3.0August 12, 20
(IDEX Online) - Fewer than a third of Surat's diamond factories have returned to work despite Unlock 3.0, an easing of restrictions by authorities in India.
Owners have to cover the costs of mandatory COVID-19 rapid antigen tests for all workers and say they simply can't afford it.
In addition, many artisans have returned to their rural villages in Saurashtra, and are afraid to return because of the coronavirus risk.
Surat is currently the worst coronavirus hotspot in Gujurat state, with 2,985 active cases - more than 2,000 said to be diamond workers - and 501 deaths.
Few of the smaller diamond units have found it worthwhile re-opening. They are allowed only one or two workers - rather than four - on each emery wheel, but still run up the same electricity bills.
The GJEPC (Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council) says fewer than 30 per cent of units have resumed work, and they are all operating at below half-strength.
Its regional chairman Dinesh Navadiya told The Times of India newspaper: "Output is now less than 25 per cent. There is a huge manpower shortage in the industry as well.
"The diamond workers are yet to return from Saurashtra due to the deteriorating situation in the city."