The failure of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) authorities to provide adequate number of examination centres in the state has meant that more than 2,000 candidates from Tamil Nadu will now be forced to travel to other states for the exam, scheduled for May 6. Most of the students will have to travel to Kerala and Karnataka, and some even to Rajasthan.
The problem, a CBSE official said, will be especially acute for students in rural areas, who may not have the means to travel and pay for accommodation in another state. “Delhi (NEET authorities) did not anticipate this crisis,” the CBSE official said. “They have no clue about rural students who cannot afford to travel so far to write a single exam.”
Quoting data from the NEET Centre, another CBSE official, in the rank of a deputy secretary, said there was about 30 per cent increase in number of students from Tamil Nadu this year, while exam halls increased by 25 per cent, eventually leading to many CBSE students being allotted “nearest” centres in neighbouring states. “This is an embarrassment for us (CBSE) too, as Tamil Nadu has always protested against NEET,” the official said.
In a move to help these students, the Madras High Court had last week ordered CBSE to allot nearby centres for writing NEET for medical admissions on May 6. The CBSE subsequently moved the Supreme Court, challenging the High Court order. Agreeing with CBSE’s argument that implementing the High Court order will cause great hardships, the apex court on Thursday observed, “…the petitioner (CBSE) shall take care to ensure that minimum inconvenience is caused to students in the succeeding years, particularly in relation to Tamil Nadu.”
While the office of NEET director Sanyam Bharadwaj said students were allotted centres in other states given difficulties in finding centres capable of conducting the test here, Bharadwaj himself remained unavailable for a comment on Thursday.
Dr Amalorpavanathan Joseph, one of the doctors who pioneered the state’s cadaver organ transplantation programme, said, “With today’s technology, students can be made to take the NEET in their districts itself. Only an incompetent organisation will make them travel outside their district, and state. Such organisations need to go. We can conduct exams in a better way.”
With thousands of students in a spot, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has announced a toll-free helpline — 14417 — to assist students and an allowance of Rs 1,000 to affected students and second class train tickets.
On Friday evening, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan issued an order to all SPs and collectors in the state to open help counters at major bus stands and railway stations for students travelling from faraway places. He also ordered officials to facilitate all possible arrangements, including accommodation.