Another IST? Study says different time zone for north-eastern states will improve productivity
It’s feasible for India to have two time zones that will increase productivity in all the north-eastern states according to a scientific study by the country’s official timekeeper.
The Indian Standard Time (IST) applicable across the country is 5.30 hours ahead of the Coordinated Universal Time (UCT, 0.00), which is based on the imaginary longitude line that runs through Greenwich in the UK.
The scientific paper by scientists from the Delhi-based CSIR-National Physical Laboratory (NPL) examines the feasibility of implementing a second time zone for the north-eastern states that will be 6.30 hours ahead UCT to save daylight hours.
This means clocks in Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands will run one hour ahead of clocks in the rest of India.
The sun rises and sets earlier in the north-eastern states than the rest of India, which causes loss of many daylight hours. The problem worsens in winter when days get shorter, leading to lost productivity and higher electricity consumption.
The study estimated that if two time zones are implemented, the annual electricity saving will be 20 million kWh.
“This is a scientific paper where we have examined whether having two time zones is feasible for India and how it can be implemented. Just like previous research on the subject, we found that having a UTC plus six-and-a half-hour time zone will increase the productivity in Port Blair and the north-eastern states,” said Dinesh K Aswal, director, NPL.
Previous studies had raised some concerns, he said. “For example, it was suggested that having two time zones could lead to railway collisions, but we have shown in the paper that if the train clocks are switched at Alipurduar Junction on the West Bengal and Assam border, such collisions can be avoided,” said Aswal, who is also one of the study’s authors.
“This is the scientific proof we have provided, now the political decision rests with the government. It is up to the ministry to decide whether or not to implement it,” added Aswal.
To implement and generate IST-II, NPL will have to establish a Primary Time Scale (PTS), which is an ensemble of five caesium clocks and one hydrogen maser, in one of the north-eastern states similar to PTS for IST-I, which is located in Delhi. A caesium clock measures time on the basis of the resonance (or change of energy state of an isotope of caesium) and a hydrogen maser, which measures time on the basis of the resonance of hydrogen across energy states.
The paper on “Necessity of ‘two time zones: IST-I (UTC +5:30 h) and IST-II (UTC +6:30 h)’ in India and its implementation” has been published in the journal Current Science by the Indian Academy of Sciences.
During British rule, India was divided into the Bombay and Calcutta time zones. Indian Standard Time was established on September 1, 1947, and corresponds to the time near Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh, with states located to the west of this longitude having more daylight hours compared to those in the east.
In 2014, Assam decided to follow chaibagaan or bagaan time (tea estate time) unofficially, which is a daylight schedule set one hour ahead of the IST, and which was used by the British for tea estates, collieries and the oil industry.
Last year, the Gauhati high court dismissed a public interest litigation that sought a separate time zone for the northeast, but in June 2017, Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu reiterated the demand for a separate time zone to increase productivity.