A big step has been taken to fulfil the nearly two-decade-old dream of shifting the diamond market from South Mumbai’s Panchratna to a new trading hub with single-window facilities. The Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) has got the final occupation certificate for the building, being built in Central Mumbai’s Bandra-Kurla Complex.
Anil Wankhede, deputy commissioner of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, confirmed that the way was now clear for BDB members to begin business at the new premises. The BDB plans to meet later this month to finalise the remaining formalities on allotment of share certificates to members, after which the latter will start shifting to the new premises.
Anoop Mehta, president of the bourse, believes commercial activity on the new premises will start within two months, while full occupation will happen in another four months.
The first major step would be to set up a dedicated Customs facility (for which 20,000 sq ft has been kept) in the complex to clear imported rough diamonds and exports. Banks are also expected to open branches in the premises. Mehta said he was confident the process would be over within six months.
The development is being described as an important step towards anchoring India’s leading role in global diamond trade. Currently, nine of every 10 rough diamonds processed in the world are routed through India. Therefore, successful implementation of the BDB plan would help attract more business to India, said Mehta.
The project was planned in 1992 as a new-age complex with all modern amenities and infrastructure. Around 30 banks were planned to be housed there, besides the Customs house and 25,000-odd safe deposit vaults, with security measures on a par with the world’s best.
The initial cost estimate was Rs 600 crore. But, disputes between the BDB committee, its architects and contractors, and payment defaults by members during the 1995-99 property slump put the project on hold in 1998. It was restarted in 2001. Informed sources said the 2,427 members of the bourse fought over various details even after allotments were decided. Therefore, many members did not release payment due to differences over costs, antagonising committee members.
Most of these issues have since been addressed, with 14 lakh sq ft of area out of the 18 lakh sq ft planned already allotted. Some area has been kept for common utilities, which is non-saleable and will house the trading floor, the Customs area and conference halls.
Satishchandra Shah, vice-president of the bourse, said, “Differences are over now. We are ready to come together for the betterment of the Indian diamond industry.”