The country can save 3.5 billion units of electricity every year if the Indian Standard Time (IST) is advanced by 30 minutes, two senior Indian scientists who first proposed the idea of a time-zone shift a decade ago said on Monday.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The country can save 3.5 billion units of electricity every year if the Indian Standard Time (IST) is advanced by 30 minutes, two senior Indian scientists who first proposed the idea of a time-zone shift a decade ago said on Monday.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Move IST ahead by 30 minutes, save 3.5 billion units of energy: Scientists

At present, India is five-and-half hours ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and among few nations with a fractional shift — in minutes — from GMT. Most countries add or subtract hours from GMT to create their standard time zones.
Mumbai | By Snehal Fernandes
PUBLISHED ON MAR 20, 2019 04:08 AM IST

The country can save 3.5 billion units of electricity every year if the Indian Standard Time (IST) is advanced by 30 minutes, two senior Indian scientists who first proposed the idea of a time-zone shift a decade ago said on Monday.

At present, India is five-and-half hours ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and among few nations with a fractional shift — in minutes — from GMT. Most countries add or subtract hours from GMT to create their standard time zones.

In 1884, India had two time zones – Bombay time and Calcutta time. On January 1, 1906, British India adopted IST of five-and-half hours ahead of GMT. Only the Assam tea gardens operate one hour ahead of IST (chai bagan time).

Retired professors DP Sengupta from the Indian Institute of Science and Dilip Ahuja from the National Institute of Advanced Studies (both based in Bengaluru) in a 2009 study funded by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency had recommended advancing the IST by 30 minutes to obtain energy and non-energy gains. They estimated India would save an estimated 2.1 billion units of electricity every year or 0.3% of the annual consumption of 750 billion units.

For 2019, the duo has said if IST is made six hours ahead of GMT, India can save 3.5 billion units from the annual 1,200 billion units of electricity consumed. According to their study, there will be a saving of 17-18% during peak energy time, such as during evenings when there is a lot of power demand.

“India is investing heavily in rural electrification, and therefore energy demands will also increase in the future. With most of the electricity requirements met by thermal power plants, a one-time advancement of 30 minutes will save us from burning coal to produce 3.5 billion units every year,” said Sengupta during a talk at the Observer Research Foundation.

The scientists are opposed to the idea of implementing daylight savings twice a year as is followed in Western countries or two time zones for India as recently recommended by the National Physical Laboratory. “Two time zones will create a divide between the eastern parts of India and the rest of the country, and lead to confusion in travel schedules. Our proposal for advancing the clock will not force people to change their schedules or habits,” said Ahuja.

Five Asian countries that have implemented one-time advancement in their clocks are China, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.

Despite making several presentations to various government departments and bodies between 2010 and 2014 and getting letters of endorsement on their proposal, nothing has happened.

“Governments and policymakers have shrugged their shoulders and moved on. We need individual states on board as stakeholders,” said Sengupta.

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