NEW DELHI, Aug 22 � Re-opening the debate for a separate time zone for the North-east, a Parliamentary panel has suggested early hour flight operation in the North-east to reap benefit of early sun rise in the region.
In what could mean a significant boost to the proponents of dual Indian standard time, a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture has observed that about two hours early sun rise has an impact on the biological clock of the people of the North Eastern Region.
If this early hour could be utilised for early operation of aircraft to other regions of the country that could be beneficial for all. The North Eastern States have early sunrise and sunset, the Department related Parliamentary Standing Committee�s report on Development of Tourism in the North East, said.
The report says the Parliamentary panel has noted that the Airports Authority of India has already taken up some projects at LGBI Airport, in this regard.
It has been recommended that the Guwahati and Agartala airports should be developed as hubs by providing hangars for parking aircraft, which is a major requirement for promoting intra-region connectivity. The airline operators then may be instructed to park their aircraft at the two airports, so that they can start early morning operations utilising the early sunrise conditions.
This is the second recommendation by a Parliamentary panel, the first being the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy, which had in 2007 talked about benefits of a separate time zone in the context of saving power consumption in North-Eastern states.
The argument forwarded was that owing to early sunset in the North-East, lights have to be switched on in offices in the evening, leading to excess consumption of power. This can be avoided by advancing the clock by one or one-and-half hours so that offices close before sunset.
However, an expert committee appointed by the Government in 2001 had recommended to the Department of Science and Technology that there was no need for a different time zone for the North-east.
Several organisations including All Assam Students� Union (AASU) and North East Students� Organisation have been demanding a separate time zone for the region.
Noted filmmaker, Jahnu Barua, who is a strong advocate of dual time zones for the country had said normal activity schedules like meal timings, working and sleeping hours more or less remain the same across the country, as it has a single time zone. As a result each of these activities in the North-east gets delayed by almost two hours compared to those in the western states.
The delay over the years as far as availability and usability of daylight and dark hours are concerned had resulted in �colossal� losses for the North-east in all spheres, he argues.
Meanwhile, helicopter operations in the North-east are all set to get a boost, with Pawan Hans, reporting to the committee that it plans to deploy 22 helicopters in the next five years in the North-east to improve air connectivity. Pawan Hans has a package of Rs 900 crore for the next five year plan.
Pawan Hans, whose operations in the North-east were suspended following two back-to-back air accidents, in one of which Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Dorjee Khandu was killed, has completed a study on air connectivity in the NER and the draft report has been submitted to the North Eastern Council.
The report has proposed a consolidated approach including hub-a-spoke system, inter-state connectivity and development within the State. Cityports at Gangtok, New Shillong and Agartala have been suggested as part of infrastructure development.
Meanwhile, an unlimited access has been granted to designated airlines of ASEAN and SAARC countries to operate from the Guwahati airport, the report said.