Some of the city’s diamond traders who could be reached by our Surat office have lamented, how and to what extent the floods have ravaged the industry and trade.
Paresh Pansuriya, partner Pansuriya Impex, who have their manufacturing unit submerged in water at Katargam Road, Surat says, “Since Sunday the entire work at the Surat factory has stopped due to floods. Leave apart doing business, we have around 700 workers who have become homeless and at the moment our prime focus is on rehabilitating them and providing food and water to them. Obviously this is a big loss. It is difficult to say as to when the entire situation will be normal. Expensive diamond cutting and polishing machinery is getting damaged by floods.”
Heavy Loss Multiplied !
Not only the damage caused to very costly electronic, laser, computer based sensitive equipment and machinery by the raging floods, totally submerged Diamond Factories of Surat had to remain closed. Besides, flooding of the underground lockers of diamantaires has added hugely to the losses as it has damaged cash, jewellery and other valuables.
It is still difficult to say when normalcy would be restored. Only then the colossal loss would be estimated.
Mahesh Navari of Pramukh Gems informs, “We have 15 laser machines in our Surat factory each costing not less than 15 lakhs, which have to be taken out for costly repairs. Now that production from Surat has completely stopped, business in Mumbai too has dipped down to its lowest.”
Vipul Patel, who is managing things at Pramukh Gems, Surat office says, “Entire Surat is flooded and only 5 per cent of its area remains above water. All phone lines have gone dead; there is no power supply and commuting here has become a problem”.
With key people of the sector stuck in Surat, a lot of work at Mumbai offices too is being hampered.
While on the other hand GJEPC Chairman, Bakul Mehta said, “Surat’s monthly diamond output is estimated to decline by around 55 per cent. At the moment we are working to provide relief material and assistance to the submerged areas. The entire situation is expected to get better in 15-20 days.”
Uninsured Cutters Face $2 bn Losses :
Surat’s flood-hit diamond industry, where numerous small-scale polishing units conduct transactions on the basis of trust may not be able to file for damages due to lack of insurance coverage. General insurance claims may be lower than actual damages, as close to an estimated 30 per cent of diamond traders may not be covered, said Babubhai Viradia, the President of Surat Diamond Association. Insurance against floods has a high premium, therefore many diamond industrialist are not covered.
Resolve to Recover :
Manufacturers in flood-ravaged Surat, a key diamond hub, vowed to work extra hours to prevent major disruption in exports and meet orders from key markets in Europe and the United States in the pre-Xmas season.
“We will not let exports dip at any cost,” said Kirti Shah, a member of the Surat Diamond Association.
Big export houses say they have informed their overseas clients about their problems.
“The challenge now is for us to start again and work more to finish the pending orders,” says Nanubhai Vasava, a prominent diamond exporter.
“The floods have caused a serious payment crisis to the whole trading community. All our business plans are in water,” Janak Dave, another diamond trader said.
Deepak Jain, Manager-in-charge for Sanghvi & Sons, Surat office says, “No production is on, as we have around 400 laborers whose houses been completely ruined. Presently we are directing all our efforts to rehabilitate then.”
Indian leaders usually undertake an aerial survey of flood-hit areas of the country; but as a rare gesture Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, came down to Surat along with his team of ministers and officers and camped there for a couple of days. During a day-night marathon, he visited all the flood-ravaged localities of Surat on foot, to direct and supervise post-flood cleaning and sanitation operations to ensure prevention of any epidemic. This exceptional exercise not only reassured Surat’s stricken citizenry but also underscores the importance of the leading diamond city.