A dual time zone in India, which gets set in place if Assam turns its clock forward by an hour, will not only create “unimaginable chaos” in a country of India’s demographic size, and barely meet its intended goal of saving energy, say authors of a new research paper that examines the merits of resetting the Indian Standard Time (IST).

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi recently announced his decision to reset the clock in the State an hour ahead of IST to save energy and increase productivity. But “all States in the country stand to save electricity were IST to be advanced” — by 30 minutes — writes D.P. Sen Gupta, visiting professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), and his colleagues, in the forthcoming edition of Current Science, the popular fortnightly science journal published by the Indian Academy of Science.

India would save 2.7 billion units of electricity every year by shifting the IST meridian eastward (from 82.5E longitude in Uttar Pradesh to 90E near the Assam-Bengal border), calculate the authors who include — Ila Gupta, and Dilip R. Ahuja of NIAS.

‘India will gain little’

Prof. Sen Gupta tells The Hindu , that by setting two time zones, or introducing “daylight saving” schedules as Europe does, India stands to gain little, and could in fact suffer from negative energy saving. Prof. Sen Gupta and his colleagues calculated the energy saving potentials of several scenarios.

“We found that the option of advancing IST consistently [by 30 minutes] saves more electricity than the corresponding proposals for introducing daylight saving time or introducing two time zones in the country staggered by one hour,” the authors write in Current Science.

The paper calculates the savings Statewise: 0.49 per cent of total energy consumption in Karnataka, 0.21 in Tamil Nadu, 0.28 in Andhra Pradesh, 0.64 in West Bengal and 0.68 in Madhya Pradesh.

“This would amount to a critical saving in energy for a country where 350 million people out of the total 1,200 million population still have no access to electricity and use kerosene lamps at night,” Prof Sen Gupta told The Hindu.

“By making a one-time change to time, not only are people saved the trouble of changing clocks every time they cross a zonal boundary, it would also prevent unimaginable chaos and accidents that could arise from confusion about time... for instance, in manually operated railway lines,” he added.

For the study, Prof. Sen Gupta and co-authors, analysed thousands of daily power load curves that usually have two peaks — one in the morning (caused mainly by water-heating) and another in the evening (from domestic, commercial and street lighting loads).

Turn the clock forward by 30 minutes countrywide to save 2.7 billion units of electricity, say scientists