Gogoi's plan to reset Assam clock to make best of daytime gets widespread support

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has a peculiar New Year wish: he wants to bring the clock forward by an hour and create a "local time", so that people in the state do not have to wait till the rest of India wakes up and starts working. "I want to advance the clock by one hour so that we can make the best use of daytime and also save energy," he said.

But Gogoi is not the first person in recent times to moot this idea. While filmmaker Jahnu Barua has been working on this possibility for the past two decades, a four-member committee constituted by the department of science & technology (DST) in 2001 had also examined the feasibility of a separate time zone for the Northeast. In 2007, the parliamentary standing committee on energy considered the issue.

"It is nothing new. The upper Assam districts had local time or bagan time in the tea estates as well as the Digboi refinery because the sun rises much earlier in this region. Some tea gardens still follow a local time," Gogoi said.

A group of 15 Congress MLAs from Assam had in July last year submitted a memorandum to the prime minister and the UPA chairperson seeking a separate time zone for the Northeast. "We had brought up the matter in the state Assembly too and received support from all parties. Later, we heard a committee constituted by the government of India had also given a favourable report," said Congress MLA Debabrata Saikia.

Filmmaker Barua, who has been running a campaign for the past five-six years, has pointed out that even re-introduction of local time would immensely benefit Assam. "I am surprised and happy that Gogoi has come up with a proposal that I mooted 25 years ago. The entire Northeast needs a separate time zone," he said. Barua pointed out that there was a two-hour time difference between India's eastern and western borders. On a day if the sun rises at 4 am in Kohima, it would rise at around 6 am in Mumbai.

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