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Time zone cry gains currency
- Assam backs Jahnu Barua’s views, convenes experts’ meet next month

Guwahati, March 5: Tapping an idea that has gained currency of late, Assam today set in process a move for a separate time zone for the Northeast.

The state government has convened a conclave of scientists and experts in April and will also urge all the northeastern states to undertake a similar exercise to build up a consensus for the region before moving the Centre.

Filmmaker Jahnu Barua — one of the main proponents of the idea — had recently organised a conclave here where experts cited reasons for the region’s backwardness because of its adherence to Indian Standard Time (IST).

The issue was touched upon in the Assembly today when Congress MLA Bhupen Bora raised the matter and referred to the workshop here in which Barua made a forceful presentation on the need for a separate time zone for the Northeast.

Assam science and technology minister Himanta Biswa Sarma later said the state would take up the issue for a separate time zone for the Northeast with all seriousness.

“I assure the House that we will take a cabinet decision and raise it with the Centre,” he said.

“Despite the sun rising in Guwahati 40 minutes before Allahabad, people in both the cities start work at the same time”, he said, adding that as a “big brother” of the Northeast, Assam would take the lead.

Sources said the Centre had set up a committee to examine the issue in 2001 and recommended the matter to the department of science and technology for examination. The department, however, rejected it, saying there was no need for a different time zone for the Northeast.

Proponents of a separate time zone, like Barua, argue that in a country which has a single standard time based on its mean longitude, the people who live in India’s west are always in an advantageous position compared to the people in the east. The reason they stated was that the people in the country’s west get to start their day earlier than those staying in the east.

At the workshop, Barua had pointed out that all the “prosperous states” like Maharashtra, Punjab and Gujarat were to the west of Indian Standard Time longitude whereas all the less productive states were situated in the east.

“Being situated in the far east, the Northeast, which wastes two to three hours of daylight every day, having to function on IST, ends up being least productive, least progressive and least prosperous,” he had said.

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