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Modi launches India’s new diamond bourse bigger than Pentagon

The new hub is located in the city of Surat, where over 90% of the world’s diamonds are cut and polished 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday inaugurated Surat Diamond Bourse, a new precious stones cutting and polishing hub in Surat in his home state of Gujarat. The new facility is expected to take over from the Bharat Diamond Bourse in Mumbai as the country’s main diamond trading center.  

The Surat bourse is not just India’s biggest hub for the international diamond and jewelry trade but is believed to be the world’s largest – for both rough and polished diamonds, as well as finished products. The bourse has nine 15-story towers and more than 4,500 offices, including a customs clearance house and bank, safe vaults, as well as retail, fitness, and conference facilities.   

Earlier this year, CNN published images of the Surat bourse that it claimed to have obtained exclusively and noted the new complex is bigger than the Pentagon. The bourse is built across 14 hectares (35 acres) of land and comprises over 660,000 square meters (7.1 million square feet) of floor space.

It is located inside the Diamond Research and Mercantile City, which is an upcoming 810-hectare business district in Surat that is modelled after the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City, or Gift City, another project of the Modi government aimed at creating a global financial and IT services hub on par with the world’s oldest financial centers such as Dubai, Singapore and Shanghai.

Addressing the inauguration ceremony on Sunday, Modi said the Surat Diamond Bourse is a symbol of India’s new strength. Apart from the diamond hub, he also opened a new terminal at the Surat airport, which will be able to handle 1,200 domestic and 600 international passengers during peak hours, with a provision for capacity increases.  

The establishment of the Surat Diamond Bourse is the result of “Modi’s guarantee,” the prime minister noted. “Today Surat is among the top 10 developing cities of the world. Surat was once known as ‘Sun City’. But today the people here, with their hard work have made it ‘diamond city’,” he said.

Over 90% of the world’s diamonds are cut and polished in Surat, a city in the state of Gujarat, where Modi was chief minister from 2001 to 2014 before becoming prime minister. Most of the diamonds manufactured in Surat are transported to Mumbai and traded there, and then exported globally.  

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The launch of the new bourse, however, comes amid uncertainties over the industry’s short-term prospects in the wake of Western sanctions against Russian diamonds, given that Moscow accounts for around 30% of all rough diamond imported by India. Most of these stones, mainly of smaller size, are cut and polished in Surat.  

In October, India voluntary suspended imports of rough diamonds for two months as a proactive measure to address the challenges arising from the imbalance between demand and supply. The ban lasted until December 15. According to India’s Gem and Jewelry Export Promotion Council, which acts as a representative for the Indian diamond industry, the suspension has helped “bring stability” to the Indian diamond industry and has had a “positive impact” on the prices of polished stones.

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Meanwhile, Modi made a strong pitch for his government’s economic achievements in the past nine years at Sunday’s launch ceremony. The Indian leader, who’s facing an election race next year, said there is a clear plan for India’s growth for the next 25 years. “Whether it is the aim for a $5-trillion economy or $10-trillion economy, the government has fixed the target for the next 25 years and we are working on it,” he said, reiterating his commitment to bring India to among the top three economies globally in his “third term.”

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