The government has not made any decision on having two time zones in the country, Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan said on Wednesday. He said a panel had already suggested against having a separate time zone for the North East.

The high-level committee, set up in 2002, did not recommend two time zones for India “due to several complexities involved in the process”, Vardhan told the Lok Sabha in reply to a question by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Varun Gandhi.

Instead, the panel suggested advancing work timings in the eastern states so that daylight hours are not wasted. “Accordingly, an advisory was issued to eastern and north-eastern states to consider advancing work timings,” Vardhan said.

States in the North East have often asked for a separate time zone to save electricity and make best use of daylight hours. India’s west-to-east expanse is large enough for the country to have multiple time zones, but it has only one, based on the time at the 82.5 degrees east longitude. People in eastern parts of the country wake up before the others because of an earlier sunrise, but still go to work at the same timings as in other states – since they have the same time zone. This wastes several hours of daylight in the morning.

Most countries with a large west-to-east expanse have multiple time zones.