Rough deal: Panna’s biggest diamond auction means nothing for its miners – by Neeraj Santoshi (Hindustan Times – January 25, 2017)

Panna, India – Gond tribal Jaggu ‘Adivasi’ is not losing his sleep over a 2 carat diamond he found in the gravel of Panna in November last year. It is out of his hands and will be among the diamonds that would go for lakhs of rupees at a government auction in the Panna collectorate on January 30. Jaggu, who seems to be in his 30s but looks much older, has been paid his wages. It is unlikely he will ever know how much the 2 carat (1 carat= 0.2 gram) diamond went for.

The January 30 auction is the biggest in the history of Panna’s shallow diamond mines and bids would be made for nearly 594 rough diamonds weighing around 476 carats. “Normally diamonds worth Rs 40 lakh to Rs 60 lakh are sold at each auction (four such auctions are held in a year).

Though we don’t reveal the price of individual diamonds, collectively we are hoping to get Rs 1 crore in the auction on January 30,” said Ratnesh Dixit, the diamond officer of Panna.

Traders from Mumbai, Surat, Hyderabad and other cities are expected to place bids for the rough diamonds from this zone in Madhya Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region. They would hope to make a killing off the rough diamonds after they are cut, polished.

For Jaggu and nearly 6,000 labourers like him who dig, sift and wash gravel through the year in the region’s diamond mines, the wages range between Rs 150 to Rs 200 for a day’s work. This is India’s biggest diamond mining zone and the source of fine stones for the industry. For Jaggu and fellow dihadi (wage) earners, the connect ends with finding diamonds in the rough.

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