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India Jewellery park will create better working conditions, boost production of exportable jewellery

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Shops for all scale of manufacturers, single window clearance of permits, training school and affordable housing are the key advantages to manufacture jewellery in the park, say experts

Mumbai: GJEPC is poised to create an organised jewellery manufacturing hub in Ghansoli. A MoU signed to the effect with the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) promises to employ about 1 lakh people and work together in about 4,500 units set up in a 25-acre area at the cost of about Rs 13,500 crore. The aim is to improve working standards of artisans and thereby, boost jewellery demand from India Jewellery Park Mumbai, which is stated to be the country’s biggest jewellery park.

Although talks are in the pre-primary level, the proposal is creating apprehensions among ground-level jewellers and goldsmiths, and their claim is backed by a jewellers’ group titled Bengali Swarna Shilpi Kalyan Sangha of Zaveri Bazaar. “The talks of setting up a jewellery park have been going on for over 2 years to boost production both in terms of quantity and quality. But the decision makers, mostly comprising giants in the jewellery industry unlike us, have not considered how easy it has been for goldsmiths in Zaveri Bazaar to transport gold to the factory and then to delivery addresses, all within walking distance. If goldsmiths are made to transport gold to Ghansoli, then the added transport cost will eat into the meagre 1-1.2% of profit goldsmiths make,” said Kalidas Sinha Roy, general secretary of the jewellers group.

Roy added that although there will be transportation facilities, mishaps such as loss of gold or damage of product during transportation will put immense pressure on the artisans. This apart, he worries the stark difference in infrastructure quality of small and big manufacturers may accelerate the recent trend of reverse migration. “The recent spate of events starting with excise, demonetization and GST has already led to many highly skilled workers leaving the profession,” he maintained.

He further explains, “We can’t afford to buy expensive equipment and thus have to rely on manual labour. The gold loss recovery of big manufacturers is about 99% while ours is 25-30%. This difference makes our product more expensive to retailers who are our customers. Additionally, these manufacturers use advanced machinery which reduces workforce while improving time efficiency.  Eventually, retailers may see greater value in dealing with larger manufacturing companies resulting in job losses for workers.”

At the Magnetic Maharashtra Convergence Summit 2018, Union minister Suresh Prabhu glorified India’s ability to customise jewellery and create more value. “Indian diamonds have a significant share in the global jewellery demand today. We want our gold jewellery to follow this step too” the minister had maintained.

Welcoming his opinion, Vasant Birawat, managing director of Chain-N-Chains, feels the worker community needs to look at the brighter side of the forthcoming development.  “The environmental hazards such as congestion, use of risky equipment in dingy places without fire safety are some of the biggest life risks our artisans face daily. Zaveri Bazaar is so congested that BMC or Mumbai police don’t give permission to set up manufacturing equipment there. Thus, in spite of having the skilled manpower and resources, one can’t develop infrastructure in that place and boost production,” Birawat said.

Sabyasachi Ray, executive director, GJEPC, explained the advantages of doing business from the proposed jewellery park. “In Zaveri Bazaar, artisans are often confronted with the BMC and the fire inspector. There is no compliance in working at a place where there is no security of raw material or jewellery while transport. The park will have tight security that will make work much safer. We have held 7-8 road shows with artisans.” said Ray.

When asked about whether small-time jewellers would be able to afford expensive shops in the jewellery park, Ray said small jewellers can rent shops, take bank loans and avail those shops with subsidised prices from the government. “We’ve ensured that they can pay reasonable rent while making profitable business. We’re working to provide housing facilities nearby so that artisans could reap the benefits of the Prime Minister’s affordable housing scheme. They also need to learn operations of advanced machinery. So, there will be a school to train workers in that respect. Most importantly, the tedious job of having 21 regulations sanctioned for setting up a manufacturing centre would be replaced with a single window clearance where we’ll install offices therein that will do the paperwork. India Jewellery Park Mumbai will literally be the one-stop destination for production and sale of jewellery in Mumbai that will boost production of exportable jewellery in an environment-friendly place,” concluded Ray.

Shubham Dasgupta, The Retail Jeweller News Service

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