Amid a raging controversy over the conduct of NEET and JEE examinations, Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank has said that the decision was taken as a result of pressure by parents and students.
“We have been under constant pressure from parents and students, asking why we are not allowing JEE and NEET. The students were very worried. In their minds they were thinking for how long will they continue to study?” the minister said.
In an interview to public broadcaster DD News, the minister said almost 80 per cent of students who are going to write the JEE exams have already downloaded the admit cards.
He said the National Testing Agency (NTA) is taking every step to ensure the safety of students. It will be mandatory for students appearing for JEE and NEET to wear masks and gloves and carry their own water bottles and hand sanitiser to the exam centre.
Thermal screening of students will be done at the entrance and their entry to the centres will be staggered. Anyone with high body temperature will be sent to an isolation room at the centre. The NTA in a statement also said that the number of students per room has been reduced from 24 to 12.
Nishank said the NTA has also ensured that more than 99 per cent of candidates get their first choice of centre cities in both the exams. For the purpose, the number of centres have been raised from 570 to 660 for JEE and 2,546 to 3,843 for NEET.
The testing agency is scheduled to conduct JEE-Main from September 10 to September 16 and NEET on September 13. Almost 8.58 lakh students have registered for JEE-Main while 15.97 lakh have registered for NEET.
The ministry’s decision to go ahead with the examinations despite the coronavirus pandemic and floods in several states has come under intense criticism from parents, students, political parties and experts alike.
While politicians including Rahul Gandhi, Delhi’s deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh among other have urged the Centre to defer the exams, climate activist Greta Thunberg, in a tweet on Tuesday supported the demands to postpone the examinations in view of the pandemic.
The NTA on July 3 had announced the dates for the two exams.
The Supreme Court on August 17 dismissed a plea filed by 11 students from as many states requesting postponement of the exams saying the precious year of students “cannot be wasted.”