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Voters queue to cast their votes in Sikkim
Voters queue to cast their votes in Sikkim|EastMojo Image
NEWS

Voters start lining up at 5.30 am: Why NE needs separate time zone

Elections once again highlight issue that has been debated for as long as history of modern India goes, over saving of daylight hours and electricity usage

Simran Bajaj

Guwahati: Voting is underway for elections to the 14 Parliamentary seats across the Northeast. However, unlike the rest of the country, people in the region started reaching their respective polling stations and queuing up as early as 5.30 am.

This once again reverberates the need for a separate time zone for the region. In Northeast India, the sun rises as early as four in the morning and in winter it sets by four in the evening. Due to this, the region loses most of its daytime hours before government offices and schools are opened, and in the process using up more electricity.

A separate time zone, say experts, would allow sunset to take place later, allowing the region to use their daylight hours in a better way.

In secluded parts of Meghalaya, voters were seen lining up at 5.30 am. Compared to this, in places like New Delhi, the sun didn’t even rise until 6 on Thursday, according to Timeanddate.com. Likewise, in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, and other parts of the region, electors were out for an early start.

Voters waiting outside a remote polling station in Meghalaya at 5.30 am on Thursday
Voters waiting outside a remote polling station in Meghalaya at 5.30 am on Thursday
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Geographically speaking, there is a significant longitudinal difference of almost 30 degrees between the outermost tip of Arunachal Pradesh in the east and Gujarat on the west. Each degree accounts for four minutes, meaning the time difference between the two edges of the country is almost 120 minutes, which qualifies for two time zones in the country.

Before independence, the country had twin time zones -- Bombay Time and Calcutta Time -- to help traders make use of daylight. However, later, to maintain uniformity throughout the country, the government decided to go with a single time zone.

According to observers, the region currently has an early sunrise of around 1-1.5 hours as compared to other parts of the country.