Separate clock for N-E: time has come

Birds flock over the River Narmada as devotees feed them, in Jabalpur. PTI

The demand for a separate time zone for the North-Eastern states is old and has been advocated by a number of agencies and experts many times in the past. The proposal may get a boost with a recent event organised at the IIT-Guwahati, deciding to launch a fresh campaign for it. There is a strong case for a different time zone for the region as the sun rises and sets there earlier than in other parts of the country. Many studies have recommended two time zones for the country. Recently, the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), which is the nation’s time-keeper, supported the demand and proposed that clocks in the North-East and Andaman and Nicobar Islands can run one hour ahead of clocks in other parts of the country. The study is backed by facts and scientific evidence and has said that it is technically feasible and sensible to have two ISTs (Indian Standard Time). 

A separate time zone will enhance productivity and efficiency in the North-East and result in saving a lot of resources that are now being wasted. Many daylight hours are lost in offices and workplaces in the North-East now. The problem is worse in the winter when the days are shorter. Billions of units of electricity can be saved by advancing the time by just one hour. Even the biological clock is said to be impacted by the working hours which do not agree with the sunlight hours. The country had two zones — the Bombay and Calcutta time zones — during the British period. Even now, many tea estates in Assam follow the ‘Chai Bagan Time’, which is an hour ahead of IST, which helps them to maximise productivity. 

Many countries have two time zones. Russia has as many as 11 time zones. India is continental in size and needs to have at least two time zones. Governments at the Centre have opposed the proposal on the ground that a separate time zone for the North-East may encourage divisive tendencies in the region, which is already troubled by insurgencies, and increase social and political strife there. These concerns are not right and justifiable. The NPL has even gone into details and said that the demarcation will go through the border of West Bengal and Assam and will be very narrow. It has also rejected claims that a separate time zone will disrupt the operations of the railways and other transport and communication agencies. The fresh campaign being launched now will hopefully lead to a positive result. 

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Separate clock for N-E: time has come

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