Surat Diamond Bourse Struggles to Fill Vacant Offices Despite High Profile
Despite the optimism surrounding the SDB, an unsettling reality has emerged – there have been no takers for the vacant offices within the monumental building.
Surat : The Surat Diamond Bourse (SDB), hailed as the world’s largest office building, has been making headlines both in India and abroad for its grandeur and impressive scale, even outmatching the Pentagon in size. However, despite the attention it has garnered, a notable hurdle looms over the project as vacant office spaces remain unclaimed.
Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan, known for hosting the popular show “Kaun Banega Crorepati” (KBC), recently posed a question related to the SDB to a contestant on his show, further elevating its prominence. This follows the enthusiastic anticipation of its inauguration on December 17, 2023, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has also expressed his support for the endeavor.
Despite the optimism surrounding the SDB, an unsettling reality has emerged – there have been no takers for the vacant offices within the monumental building. The SDB Diamond Bourse committee has conducted six rounds of e-auctions in an attempt to sell the offices, but so far, these efforts have been in vain, failing to attract buyers from the diamond industry.
The most recent e-auction is to be held on September 2, 2023, where a range of office spaces, varying from 300 square feet to 11,700 square feet, are put up for sale. However, details about the success of the previous e-auctions remain undisclosed. Out of the total 4,200 offices in the building, only 650 are expected to be operational by November 21, owned by diamond companies and traders.
The SDB, situated within the Diamond Research and Mercantile (DREAM) city located 15 kilometers from Surat, is a groundbreaking initiative financed privately by diamond barons and project stakeholders from the diamond industry. The committee includes influential figures such as Vallabhbhai Lakhani, chairman of Kiran Gems; Govind Dholakia, chairman of Shree Ramkrishna Exports (SRK); Sevantilal Shah, chairman of Venus Jewels; and Lalji Patel, chairman of Dharmanandan Diamonds.
While some industry insiders are excited about the forthcoming inauguration, a significant portion of diamond traders remains cautious about the success of the venture. A primary concern is the lack of adequate air connectivity to and from Surat. Notably, there is no direct flight connecting Surat and Mumbai, a significant hurdle for bringing international buyers to the city. Currently, Surat Airport operates a lone international flight to Sharjah, spanning three days a week.
A leading diamond company owner asking anonymity said, “We have a huge office space in the SDB, but we will be shifting less than 40% staff from our Mumbai office in Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB). If everything goes smoothly, we may think of shifting the entire staff. But, at the moment we are keeping our fingers crossed”
Efforts to address this concern have been underway. The SDB office-bearers have reportedly negotiated with private airlines to secure commitments for 70% of the tickets on Surat-Mumbai flights. Additionally, discussions have taken place with Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia to expedite the process of establishing air links to important international destinations such as London, Dubai, and New York, with aims to implement these connections by January 2024.
The future of the Surat Diamond Bourse hangs in the balance, as its organizers grapple with the challenge of transforming it from a symbol of ambition to a bustling hub of diamond trade activity.