India is set to get a second time zone if a proposal by northeastern Assam state Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is implemented.
The federal government, which needs to approve the proposal, is inclined to accept Gogoi’s proposal, according to reports on Friday.
The idea of a second time zone is an old one, but one which has never been seriously pursued. The sun rises much earlier in the northeast than in the rest of the country and consequently sets before it does elsewhere.
With the northeast following the Indian Standard Time (IST), this has meant that people in this region waste at least an hour of daylight in the morning and have to manage with an early evening as night falls around 5pm local time.
In fact, the real difference in sunrise and sunset between the eastern part and the western part is close to two hours. For instance, the sun rises at 6am in Mumbai city on the western coast when it is equivalent to 4am at Kohima city on the eastern fringe of the country as per IST.
Gogoi has proposed that time in the northeast be advanced by an hour to make use of the day time and save energy.
In 2001, the federal Department of Science and Technology had examined the issue and six years later, a parliamentary committee on energy too had looked at it.
Filmmaker Jahnu Baruah, who proposed the shift 25 years ago, has been single-handedly campaigning for the last several years to get a specific time zone for the northeast. Reports quoted him saying he was "surprised and happy" that Gogoi had come up with the proposal.
Inclined to accept
Indications are that the Congress-led federal government in New Delhi will implement the new time zone as the Assam chief minister belongs to the same party.
Also, Assam Congress legislators have been lobbying for the change in time zone for the last few months.
However, reports cautioned that there would be chaos if and when the proposal is implemented, particularly as regards train timings in a country where rail travel is critical and used by millions each day.
Instead, scientist Dilip Ahuja who authored a federal government report on the issue has suggested that time across the country be advanced by half-an-hour to retain uniformity and yet move closer to bridging the gap between the east and west, a report in The Mint newspaper said.
IST- set five-and-a-half hours ahead of the international Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and introduced in 1947- was chosen with reference to a central station sited 82º 30’ longitude east and 23º 11’ latitude North, passing through Allahabad district in northern Uttar Pradesh state.
Since 1947 when India became independent, the IST has been the official time for the whole country.
Source: Al Jazeera