Surat Diamond Bourse Struggles with Operationalization and Lack of Air Connectivity
Fewer than 300 offices out of the total 4,500 offices are expected to commence operations following the bourse's inauguration, expected to take place in November 2023 with the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Surat: The Surat Diamond Bourse (SDB), hailed as the world’s largest diamond bourse, faces significant challenges as it strives for early operationalization. Despite its impressive size, surpassing even the Pentagon in the United States, the bourse grapples with challenges within the diamond trade, and attracting foreign visitors and buyers due to the lack of international air connectivity from Surat airport.
The SDB, situated in the Diamond Research and Mercantile (DREAM) City in Khajod, spans 35.54 acres and comprises nine 15-story towers interconnected by spine corridors, housing a total of 4,500 offices. However, it is anticipated that only a fraction of these offices, fewer than 300, mostly owned by prominent diamond companies, will commence operations following the bourse’s inauguration, expected to take place in November 2023 with the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
One of the major hurdles faced by the SDB project is the absence of a well-developed transportation system for daily employee commutes. The current lack of city bus services necessitates employees residing in areas such as Varachha and Katargam to undertake long journeys to reach Khajod. Furthermore, the progress of the ongoing Surat Metro rail project is sluggish, and its completion is not expected for another three to four years.
Interestingly, the SDB bourse committee has initiated efforts to woo diamond traders from Mumbai’s Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB), who have acquired offices in the Surat Diamond Bourse (SDB), with enticing offers. The committee has proposed that traders starting their offices before the inauguration will have their names listed at the entrance gate of each of the nine buildings within the SDB. Additionally, early starters will enjoy a one-year waiver of office maintenance fees.
However, despite the attractive incentives, diamond traders are hesitant to commence operations at the SDB primarily due to transportation challenges, employee concerns, the lack of air connectivity between Mumbai and Surat, and the absence of international air connectivity.
Mahesh Gadhvi, CEO of SDB, commented, “Small diamond traders who own offices at SDB are waiting for the larger diamond companies to initiate operations. Once the major players commence their activities, others will follow suit.” He further added, “Presently, we can affirm that the interior and infrastructure work in approximately 300 offices, predominantly owned by major diamond companies, is nearing completion, and they will begin operations on the day of the November-2023 inauguration. We are awaiting confirmation of the dates from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office.”
When asked about the reasoning behind the lucrative offers to diamond traders, Gadhvi explained, “We aim to encourage diamond traders to start their offices as soon as possible. These attractive offers serve as a recognition of the first-movers within the bourse, which will inspire others to commence operations prior to the inauguration.”
A senior official at the Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) in Mumbai, speaking on the condition of anonymity, shared their perspective, stating, “As the name suggests, the Bharat Diamond Bourse is for Bharat and India. We have suggested that diamantaires in Jaipur consider establishing a diamond bourse. We do not want to make the BDB Mumbai-centric; we are envisioning an impact on the entire country. Conversely, the SDB appears to solely focus on Surat.”