A chance find of a 26 carat diamond in Panna leaves a brick kiln worker bedazzled

Life will not be the same for Sushil Shukla from Madhya Pradesh who recently found a diamond that should fetch him more than a crore of rupees. His dreams have come true, he told Gaon Connection. Details here.

Arun SinghArun Singh   24 Feb 2022 10:59 AM GMT

A chance find of a 26 carat diamond in Panna leaves a brick kiln worker bedazzled

Panna, Madhya Pradesh

It was a find that changed the life of 47-year-old Sushil Shukla. On February 21 last week, he couldn't believe his fortune when he unearthed a diamond weighing 26.11 carats at a mine in Panna, Madhya Pradesh.

There are thousands of hopeful prospectors in Panna who take usually 10 feet by 10 feet patches of land on patta at Rs 200 a year from the government, in order to mine for diamonds. "I have been trying my luck for twenty years. But it was on February 21, that fortune smiled upon me," a jubilant Shukla told Gaon Connection.

The find is going to change his life, Shukla said. He had got the patta for the land at Krishna Kalyanpur about eleven kilometres from the Panna district headquarters, only early this month and he has not even covered the entire land for diamonds.

Apart from looking for diamonds, Shukla works at a brick kiln for his livelihood. He has no home of his own and struggles to make ends meet, he said.

"For years I have been dreaming of owning my own house. I couldn't study beyond the tenth class, but now I can educate my only son and the sons of my older brother. I can stop my brick-kiln work and do something more respectable," he said happily.

Sushil receiving the receipt of the diamond from Panna district collector.

Shukla and his family live at a relative's home, and he supports a joint family with five brothers, two of whom are married and have families of their own, and a brother who is disabled. A widowed sister also lives with them. Just one of the brothers works as a driver, the others work in the mines.

All that glitter

While Panna is known for its diamonds in its mines, only a handful like Shukla have actually been able to find anything so valuable like he has.

According to Ravi Patel, official at the diamond mining office at Panna, "Records show that in 1961, the biggest ever find was made by one Rasool Mohammad. He found a diamond weighing 44.33 carats, and that record still stands," he told Gaon Connection.

Anything over 25 carats is categorised as priceless and rare. "This particular diamond is the eleventh biggest one. It has been deposited at the diamond office, and it will be auctioned," Patel said.

Once it is auctioned, the government will keep 11.5 per cent of the amount as royalty, and the rest will be handed over to Shukla.

"This is a very fine quality diamond, and it should fetch a good price," diamond expert Pawan Dev told Gaon Connection. "Even in its rough form it will fetch more than a crore of rupees. And, once it is cut and polished, its price will run into several crores," he said.

According to Ravi Patel, "In 2018, Motilal, a poor labourer unearthed a diamond that weighed 42 carats and 59 cents. It was auctioned at six lakh rupees a carat," Patel said. In 2019 Brijesh Upadhyay, an inhabitant of Panna town, found a 29.46 carat diamond.

Is Panna losing its lustre?

Though Panna is known for its priceless diamonds, the future of the only diamond office in the country that is located here has lost some of its lustre and is on the verge of closing down. There has been no move in the past few years to fill the vacancies generated at the diamond office by those who are retiring. There is just a clerk and a gemologist who are running the show.

The diamond office runs out of a small room now.

"Apart from an office at the Panna district headquarters, there were sub offices at Itwan Khas and Pahari Khera too. They are closed now. These offices employed nearly three dozen people including security and diamond inspectors," Anupam Singh, a gemologist, told Gaon Connection. Now there are just two people there who are waiting to retire, he added.

The diamond mines in Panna are located across nearly 70 kilometres, stretching from Majhgawan to Phadi Khera. The Majhgawan kimberlite pipe and the Hinauta kimberlite pipe are located here. Kimberlite pipes are vertical structures occurring in the earth's crust due to volcanic activity, where diamonds are often found.

The National Mineral Development Corporation uses modern technology to mine diamonds in this area. However, as the environmental permission to excavate in this area ended on January 1, 2021, the mines are closed.

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