NEW DELHI, Jan 7 � Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi may have in a belated realisation, revived the debate for a separate time zone for the North-east, but his latest advocacy may fall flat, because a gain of half an hour for the Eastern Region may lead to loss of equal numbers of hours in the Central and Western Regions.
A top official of the Ministry of Science and Technology told this newspaper that the Centre had not once, but twice turned down the demand � way back in 2001 and 2007. An expert committee appointed by the Government of India 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.
Instead, it was recommended that working hours in Eastern India be advanced by an hour, which poses a danger for the Tarun Gogoi Government of incurring the wrath of the State Government employees.
The Centre�s stand was made known by the then Union Minister for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal, to the Parliament in 2007.
In the face of the demands for a separate time zone, an expert committee was constituted by the Department of Science and Technology in 2001 and 2007, to study the demand for two time zones.
Significantly, the second expert panel after studying the demand, was of the opinion that given the longitudinal difference between the extreme regions in the country, technically it is possible to have two time zones, said sources.
�But these will be five hours and six hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), in place of the current uniform Indian Standard Time (IST), which is five and a half hours ahead of GMT,� the findings said.
The expert panel admitted that a separate time zone would be in accordance with international norms, but it pointed out that new timings will enable savings in daylight hours only by half an hour for the Eastern States, whereas there will be a corresponding loss of half an hour in the Central and Western States.
It was observed that this does not provide any major advantage, yet on the other hand, pose several difficulties in terms of differential timings for airlines, railways, radio and TV, STD services among others, sources said.
A more prudent and effective solution would be to advance the work timings by one hour in the Eastern States, which could be implemented through administrative instructions, a suggestion accepted by the Centre.
Last week, Gogoi had proposed a local time zone that would be at least 60 minutes ahead of the Indian Standard Time (IST) and help the state save energy by better utilising the sunlight.
Assam�s tea gardens and oil establishments already have a system of local timings as the sun rises earlier in the Northeast than in the rest of the country.
In fact, prior to the Chief Minister�s statement, a Parliamentary Panel on Transport, Tourism and Culture had made recommendations on similar lines by suggesting early hour flight operations in the North-east to reap the benefit of early sun rise in the region.