Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal on Tuesday reiterated the government’s stand to hold JEE (Main) and NEET next month as per schedule even as two Chief Ministers joined the chorus on deferring the entrance tests.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to Pokhriyal on Tuesday, seeking a postponement.
Patnaik justified the demand on the ground that the National Testing Agency (NTA) had identified test centres in only seven towns in Odisha for more than 50,000 students registered for NEET and around 40,000 for JEE (Main).
Banerjee urged the Centre to seek a review of the Supreme Court’s decision on the timing of the examination. Last week, the top court refused to entertain a plea for further postponement of the entrance tests.
“…in view of the prevailing pandemic situation in the country, it would be highly unsafe and perilous for the students to visit the test centres physically to appear in these tests. Besides, as frequent lockdown/shutdown are being enforced by the concerned district administration due to sudden escalation of the covid cases locally, the local transportation too gets disrupted,” Patnaik’s letter read.
However, Pokhriyal, in an interview to Doordarshan on Tuesday, was firm on holding the exams on time.
“There are many stakeholders asking us why we are not conducting NEET and JEE (Main). They are worried about the delay and how long will the students keep preparing for these tests. We have postponed the exam twice. But I have been informed by the NTA Director-General that till yesterday, 7.25 lakh out of 8.58 lakh candidates for JEE (Main) have downloaded their admit cards. Secondly, the number of centres has been increased. In one (test) centre there will not be more than 150 students. Almost 99 per cent of the students have got centres of their choice. Only 450 students have requested a change of centre and NTA is ready for that. We are with the students,” he said.
According to NTA’s press release, the number of examination centres has been increased from 570 to 660 for JEE (Main) and from 2,546 to 3,843 for NEET. NTA also listed precautions that will be in place such as staggering entry and exit of candidates, use of hand sanitisers, compulsory use of gloves and masks for students and invigilators and mandatory temperature check before entering examination centre, among others.
Seeking to reassure parents, Rao said both NTA and the Education Ministry are in touch with state governments for taking care of the transport requirements.
“It will become a zero academic year for lakhs of students (if exams are not held). Let’s not be deterred by Covid. Let’s become responsible and let’s all do our best by adjusting to this new normal. Covid can stay, careers can’t wait,” Rao said. —With PTI inputs