Once at loggerheads, the Assam Congress and the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) have both come together for demand of a separate time zone for the northeast region.
There is an annual loss of at least Rs. 94,900 crore in the region because of redundant power consumption, according to calculations by noted filmmaker and former ISRO scientist, Jahnu Barua.
While the demand is a key point in ULFA’s ongoing talks with the government, a team of MLAs from Assam on July 25 has submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking a separate time zone for the seven states.
“We will now approach the political leadership of all the other NE states to press for a separate time zone,” said Debabrata Saikia, MLA and son of former Assam CM Hiteshwar Saikia.
While it is being articulated in political circles now, a separate time zone has been a long-standing demand of eminent personalities hailing from the region.
The east-west spread of India extends across 28 longitudes accounting for about two hours as a result of which the sun rises two hours earlier in the extreme eastern part of the country than the western tip.
The Union home ministry had proposed a separate time zone for the region in 2009-10. Former home secretary GK Pillay had told HT: “We have to change our mindset. The demand for a separate time zone for the northeast is a valid one and I hope it is granted. There is a lot to be gained from it”.