Zaveri Bazaar, the hub of India’s gold and silver trade in south Mumbai, might soon get a new address in Kharghar in Navi Mumbai.
Aware that maintaining the Covid-19 protocol, which requires social distancing, is impossible in the crowded and dingy lanes of Zaveri Bazaar, the India Bullion & Jewellers Association plans to relocate the gold trade to a 60-acre plot in Navi Mumbai.
“We have identified two chunks of land in MIDC (Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation) area in Kharghar which are 60 -70 acres each where we intend to set up an industrial park for gold trade at an investment of Rs 10,000 crore and shift the entire operations of Zaveri Bazaar there,” Prithviraj Kothari, president of IBJA, told ET. “We expect to finalise the plot as soon as the Covid cases come down and normalcy returns.”
IBJA will take up the matter with the Maharashtra government once the pandemic comes under control.
Kothari said the proposed park will have apartments for artisans so that they do not have to leave their workplace if a Covid-19-like situation arises again.
“We will have banks, financial institutions, customs offices inside the park. There will be separate places for artisans so that they have ample space,” Kothari added.
The daily turnover in Zaveri Bazaar is about Rs 900 crore in normal times.
The IBJA president said the second wave of the pandemic has not seen artisans leave their workplaces.
“We have decided to provide Covid vaccines to the artisans free of cost,” he added.
Kothari said Zaveri Bazaar employs around 50,000 artisans.
“And there are altogether 500,000 artisans in Mumbai. So when the industrial park comes up in Navi Mumbai, the entire workforce can move in there,” he said.
While IBJA is taking steps for the welfare of the artisans, the All India Gem & Jewellery Domestic Council has decided to raise funds to help artisans.
“We have sought the bank details and Aadhaar card numbers of the artisans so that we can transfer funds in their accounts, which will help them in this critical moment,” said Ashish Pethe, chairman of the council.
During the first wave of Covid-19 last year, jewellers who came under the purview of the council had given financial support of Rs 1,500 to each of the workers.
“We supported about 10,000 workers across India,” Pethe said.