Even though the Bharat Diamond Bourse (BDB) is opening on Sunday, the city’s diamond traders have hardly shown any interest in moving to the new premises. According to market sources, only 40 per cent traders are willing to shift from south Mumbai’s diamond hubs – Pancharatna and Prasad Chambers.
The reasons why traders are not keen on moving to BDB are the inordinate delay of the project – about two decades – coupled with high realty rates at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) where BDB is located. Also, the traders are uncertain about their trade prospects at the new premises.
According to Naresh Mehta, secretary of Pancharatna Cooperative Housing Society, traders are still apprehensive of shifting. “The small traders can’t afford to buy the new premises, which are priced at exorbitantly high rates,” said Mehta. “Since most of the business is concentrated in areas like Zaveri Bazaar and Pancharatna, it will become difficult to commute from the new premises.”
Mehta added that the new bourse would hardly have any effect on the traditional markets.
However, the managing committee of the bourse has expressed confidence that the reluctant traders will eventually move in the new premises. “There is a herd mentality among our traders and they will all move to a place after they see others moving,” said Anoop Mehta, president, BDB. “The new place has better facilities and also enhanced security.” He added that eventually south Mumbai’s diamond hubs would be utilised for the service industry.
When the BDB project was started in 1991, the total project cost was estimated to be Rs 482 crore, and members are said to have booked the offices at the rate of Rs 3,050 per square feet. However, inordinate delays have pushed the project cost to more than Rs 1,100 crore and premises are now available in the range of Rs 30,000-Rs 50,000 per square feet.
“It has now become more of a real estate business considering the lucrative location of BKC than a diamond trading centre,” said Hardik Hundiya, diamond market expert, adding that most of the traders who have purchased the premises in this 20-acre plot are looking forward to renting it. A 150 square feet office in these premises could fetch more than Rs 60,000 rent per month.