Recently, a public interest litigation seeking a separate time zone for the Northeast was dismissed by the Gauwahati High Court. While recognizing the difficulties faced by adopting a single time zone in eastern India, the court citing a high-level committee study constituted by the Ministry of Science and Technology concluded that Indian Standard Time (IST) should nonetheless be retained.
Quite often, while pursuing the issue of having a separate time zone with the Central government, the ordinary citizens from the Northeast, activists, industrialists and legislators have complained about the effect of IST on their lives. The petitions pertaining the matter has been repeatedly rejected by the government.
The creation of a time zone signals entails a denial to local solar time and local time. The time difference between the easternmost part of India and the westernmost point is approximately two hours in India. In Northeast India, the sun rises and sets much earlier than it does in the rest of the country, rising as early as four in the morning and setting by four in the evening in winter. Thus, many daylight hours are already lost by the time government offices or educational institutions open. With more electricity being consumed, the ecological costs are a disaster.
Having two time zones in the country is considered unsuitable. Given the Northeast s long history of self-determination movements, there is a strong political dimension to it as well.
This insistence on observing IST all over India despite the problems faced by North east has social and economic repercussions on the region as well as the integrated country.