Amid protests from many chief ministers to postpone them, the National Testing Agency (NTA) is going ahead with preparations to conduct the National eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to medical and dental colleges and the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) for entry into engineering colleges and IITs “without compromising” the safety of candidates amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NTA is spending almost Rs 13 crore on masks, gloves, hand sanitisers, thermal screening devices and other materials as part of its anti-COVID measures at exam centres for the JEE(Main) scheduled to be held from September 1-6. This will be the first all-India exam to be conducted since the outbreak of the coronavirus.
The NTA has ordered 10 lakh masks, 10 lakh pairs of gloves, 1,300 infrared thermometer guns, 6,600 litres of hand sanitiser and an equal amount of disinfectant liquid, 6,600 sponges, 3,300 spray bottles. Besides, 3,300 cleaning staff too would be roped in to ensure a safe environment at the 660 test JEE (Main) centres across the country, The Indian Express reported.
Over 8.5 lakh students have registered for the online exam to be conducted under the supervision of over 1.1 lakh invigilators.
The NTA had in July announced that the JEE and NEET will be conducted in September after the exams were postponed twice before as the coronavirus raged in the country.
The NEET will be held on September 13 and the JEE (Advanced) on September 26.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, some chief ministers, including West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee and Punjab’s Amarinder Singh, and the AAP government in Delhi had wanted the Centre to postpone the exam.
The Centre, however, has not budged and has decided to go on with JEE and NEET as scheduled.
Some students had also moved the Supreme Court seeking postponement of the exam. The court, however, dismissed the petition saying it does not want to put the careers of students in “jeopardy”.
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Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ on Thursday (August 27) said over seven lakh candidates have downloaded their JEE (Main) admit cards. This, he said, indicated the eagerness among students to take the exams.
“National Testing Agency (NTA) officials told me that over seven lakh candidates have downloaded JEE-Main admit cards while over 10 lakh aspirants have downloaded NEET admit cards. This shows that students want the exams to be held at any cost,” he had said, adding the ministry has received mails from many students and parents asking it to not postpone the exam any further.
The JEE(Main) will be held in two three-hour shifts each day. “The first shift from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm will be held from 9 am to noon and the second shift will start at 3 pm instead of 2 pm. This will give us time to sanitise the computer labs for the second shift,” NTA director-general Vineet Joshi told The Indian Express.
Students will be made to sit on alternate seats to ensure social distancing.
Joshi said students have been allotted various time slots to ensure there will be no crowding at the test centres.