Over 40 per cent of the registered diamond units in Gujarat have closed down due to recession, the state government on Wednesday admitted in the assembly.
In reply to a question by Dediapada MLA Amarsinh Vasava, the industry and mines department Minister said that in 2006, there were 494 diamond units registered with the state government, of which just 273 such units which were operational on March 31, 200 with strength of 78,936 diamond workers. In the last three years, 1,11,740 diamond workers had lost their livelihood.
During 2006-07, nearly 150 registered diamond units closed down and in 2007-08, 141 units were forced to shut shop. However, the number rose to 161 in 2008-09. The government pointed out that in 2008-09, 42,160 diamond workers lost their jobs while in 2006-07, 36,060 were rendered jobless. In 2007-08, 33,520 workers went unemployed.
In its reply, the government also said that after several meetings with diamond associations, three per cent interest subsidy scheme in short term agricultural loan for diamond workers turning to farming was announced. The government had also announced a skill enhancement aid package for them. The package was meant to help diamond workers develop skills for gainful employment.
Under this scheme, diamond workers who get enrolled are given a stipend of Rs 100 per day and maximum Rs 2,500 per month. As many as 1,238 diamond workers from Ahmedabad, 735 from Surat and 223 from Bhavnagar enrolled in the programme.