‘Need to revive artificial gem industry’

The Tiruchi District Tiny and Small Scale Industries’ Association has made a case for invigorating artificial gem industry before the Expert Committee formed for revival of MSMEs in Tamil Nadu.

A delegation led P. Rajappa recently highlighted the niche advantages of artificial gems made in Tiruchi in the export market before the Expert Committee on MSME Revival led by retired IAS officer and former Industries Secretary N. Sundaradevan. The Expert Committee was apprised of the need for resumption of manufacture of raw materials for the artificial gem industry at a production unit in Mettupalayam.

Artificial gems made in Tiruchi, known as American diamond, used to have a niche export market as the exterior polish sustained brightness due to use of water from the Cauvery in the manufacturing process. However, the gem-cutting industry in Tiruchi region collapsed due to invasion of export market by Chinese products with their price advantage.

There used to be 1.5 lakh cottage units in Tiruchi region including parts of contiguous districts, about two decades back. Despite the hike in customs duty on imported artificial gem stones effected by the Central Government earlier this year, the gem-making industry has not been able to bounce back as the supply of raw material has not been constant.

It is another matter that finished products from China are being imported by makers of leathers, garments and footwear at the very cost of the raw material. This explains why the local gem-cutting industry has diminished scope to rise up to the challenge posed by cheap Chinese products, Mr. Rajappa explained, adding that support from the government in the form of subsidies and hassle-free availability of raw materials could pave way for revival of the industry at least to a certain extent.

“As such, there has not been any progress in the condition of the artificial gem industries in Tiruchi, as importers continue to rely on finished products from China due to the cost advantage,” G. Raveendan, General Manager, District Industries Centre, Tiruchi, said.

On their part, the gem-cutting units being run at the cottage level are understood to be exploring the scope for operating in units of clusters for developing competitiveness. The sector is expected to be benefited by a project being undertaken by the Siemens Centre of Excellence in Manufacturing at National Institute of Technology – Tiruchi (NITT) to fabricate a machine for cutting and polishing rough gem stones at an extent that would pave way for deriving the advantage of economy of scale, it is learnt.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 10:39:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/gem/article37200381.ece

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