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Export council adds polish to gems units

Calcutta, Nov. 19: The Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council has decided to set up a cluster for the gem and jewellery industry in Calcutta and has appointed KPMG to carry out a feasibility study of the project.

The council has approached the Bengal government for land to develop the cluster. State commerce and industry minister Nirupam Sen has assured the council a plot near Kona Expressway.

Council convenor (eastern region) Pankaj Parekh said the state-of-the-art cluster will house manufacturing units, artisans and marketing facilities.

“KPMG will submit the report in four to six weeks,” said Parekh.

The gem and jewellery industry will provide 25 per cent equity for setting up the cluster, while the remaining will come from the central government.

The Centre had passed a scheme two years back for developing clusters so that a certain industry can grow in a successful manner from a particular place. The Centre had allotted Rs 675 crore in the Ninth Plan for developing clusters. “This amount is expected to roll over in the Tenth Plan also,” said Parekh.

Council chairman Sanjay Kothari said the council has already approached the Centre for developing two such clusters — one in Coimbatore and the other at Rajkot.

“The clusters are aimed at strengthening the competitiveness of smaller units in these areas by developing a consensus-based vision to achieve a collective efficiency and competitive advantage,” said Kothari.

Director-general of the export promotion council for export oriented units and special economic zones Lalit B. Singhal said the government also wants more clusters to come up.

The gem and jewellery industry has set up the Indian Institute of Gem and Jewellery in Mumbai to conduct training in designing and manufacturing. The institute will be inaugurated shortly. “The industry will need two million people in the next five years. The institute will be able to provide skilled craftsmen,” Kothari added.

The total gem and jewellery exports in the first six months of the current fiscal has witnessed an increase of 13.61 per cent in dollar terms and 8.68 per cent in rupee terms compared with the corresponding period of the previous year. The total exports in the first half of 2003-04 is $3997.75 million.

“We are targeting $16 billion gem and jewellery export by 2007,” said Kothari.

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