The demand for a separate time zone for the Northeast once again getting the place in headlines of news papers and news portals. This time the demand for a separate time zone for the Northeast raised by the Arunachal Chief minister Pema Khandu. According to Mr Khandu a separate time zone for the Northeast would save working daylight time and electricity.
“A separate time zone for the Northeast would save working daylight time and save electricity,” Khandu was quoted by a English National Daily as saying. “We get up as early as 4 am. Several daylight hours are wasted as government offices open only at 10 am and close at 4 pm.”
Khandu’s support for the demand comes days after the Gauhati High Court rejected a public interest litigation seeking a separate time zone for the northeast.
The demand, first raised by the North-Eastern states in the mid-nineties, is based on the logic that owing to early sunset in the North-East, lights have to be turned on in offices in the evening, leading to excessive consumption of power. This can be avoided by advancing the clock by one or one-and-half hours so that those offices can close earlier.
In the late 1980s, a team of researchers proposed separating the country into two or three time zones to conserve energy, but its recommendations were not adopted.
In 2001, the government established a four–member committee under the Ministry of Science and Technology to examine the need for multiple time zones and daylight saving. The Minister for Science and Technology at the time, Kapil Sibal, suggested sticking to the IST, stating that “the prime meridian was chosen with reference to a central station, and that the expanse of the Indian State was not large.”
A planning commission report in 2006, too, suggested different time zones in India to improve efficiency.
When the British ruled India, they had divided the country into Bombay time zone, Calcutta time zone and bagan time zone.
The tea gardens in Assam still follow the baagaan time in order to increase productivity.
India currently follows a time that is 5-1/2 hours ahead of the international standard, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The proposed new time zone would put the North-Eastern states six-hours ahead of GMT, as par with Bangladesh.