In a welcome note, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has proposed a local time zone for Assam that would be at least by 60 minutes ahead of the Indian standard time. This would help the state in saving energy by better utilizing sunlight.
IST is five-and-a-half hours ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time. Established on September 1, 1947, IST corresponds to the time schedule along the 82.5°E longitude near Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh. States located to the west of this longitude have more daylight hours compared to those in the east. According to experts, there is a two-hour difference in time when the sun rises in India’s east and when it does in the west.
Assam‘s tea gardens and oil establishments already have a system of local timings where working hours in tea plantations and in the oil sector start at 8 am and 7 am, respectively. In the tea gardens, this system has been in practice since the British days. In government offices in Assam, the official timing is from 10 am to 5 pm. Gogoi said Assam would advance working hour by an hour. “The local timing time will save energy and increase the productivity,” he added.
According to prominent film maker Jahnu Barua, one of the main proponents of a separate time zone, the Centre had never bothered to look into the problems of having just one time zone. The absence of a time zone that suits the local requirements has led to problems such as a sense of alienation, imbalance in biological clock, wastage of electricity and loss in productivity, he said. This has resulted in the Northeast losing out on both human and capital development, Barua said.
Earlier requests for a dual time zone (discarded with the cancellation of the Calcutta Time and the Bombay Time in the 1940s and 1950s) have been met with reluctance from the Centre, which has reportedly cited administrative challenges despite the possibility of energy savings and better productivity through saving some daylight hours by turning the clock ahead an hour in the north-eastern states.