Is it time for India to have two different time zones? A scientific study by India’s official timekeeper backs the idea. According to a paper prepared by scientists from CSIR-National Physical Laboratory (NPL), Delhi-based keepers of the Indian Standard Times (IST), having another time zone will increase the productivity in Andaman and the six north eastern states.
The IST, which is used all over India, is 5.30 hours ahead of the Coordinated Universal Time (UCT, 0.00). The UCT is based on the longitude line that passes through the UK’s Greenwich.
The paper examined the feasibility of implementing a second time zone especially for the north-eastern states. That suggested time zone will be 6 hours 30 minutes ahead of the UCT and will save daylight hours in that region.
Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands might set their clocks one hour ahead of the rest of India.
North-eastern states witness an early sun rise and sun set than the rest of India. It causes loss of many daylight hours especially in the winters when the region loses sunlight quickly. During the winter period, days get shorter nand it hampers productivity and leads to higher consumption of electricity.
According to the paper, the country would save 20 million kWh electricity annually if the two time zone system is implemented.
Earlier studies, though, raised some concerns such as increased danger of train collisions. But this study suggests that if the train timings are adjusted at Alipurduar Junction, a major station of the Indian Railways on the West Bengal and Assam border, this risk can be avoided.
Establishment of a Primary Time Scale (PTS) is required to implement and generate IST-II. PTS is an ensemble of five caesium clocks and one hydrogen maser. Once approved, the implementation would require establishment of a laboratory for ‘Primary Time Ensemble – II’ generating IST-II in any of the north-eastern states, which would be equivalent to the existing ‘Primary Time Ensemble-I’ at CSIR-NPL, New Delhi.
Colonial India, under the British Raj, followed two times zones. Bombay and Calcutta time zones used to cover Western and Eastern halves of the country. Post Independence, India established a single time zone, IST, on September 1, 1947. It was set along the local time in Uttar Pradesh’s Eastern city Mirzapur.