With the states divided on political lines over holding the NEET-JEE exams, BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh is ready with a plan to go all out to conduct the exams on schedule in September.
As a first step the government has offered to double the number of centres for the NEET test and has banned frisking of candidates. They will be expected to go through a metal detector. This year the expected number of NEET candidates is going to be 58,860 and the state plans to have 144 centres as compared to last year's 84 centres for 54,445 candidates. Sources said Bhopal will have 35 centres for about 18,000 candidates. There were 15 centres last year for 12,000 candidates.
Among the steps taken for the candidates' safety, alternate seats have been arranged for the JEE (Main) and NEET examinees. There will be 12 NEET candidates in each room. Students will go through thermal scanning. There will be separate entry and exit gates. Document verification will be done in two rooms in batches of 15 candidates each. Face masks will be mandatory.
Sanitisation of the centres will be carried out before each test. Isolation wards will be prepared for students with high fever. Facility for disposal of gloves and masks for both the candidates and invigilators will be arranged. Only masks, gloves, hand sanitisers, water in transparent bottles, admit cards and ID cards will be allowed in the centres.
The Congress-led opposition is opposing the holding of the exams. Former state Education Minister Jitu Patwari on Wednesday wrote to the Chief Minister to cancel the exams in view of the pandemic.
"Like the rest of the world our country is also facing the pandemic. Covid had started infecting the state when you took charge in March. You failed to control it," wrote Patwari. "Under these circumstances, I request you not to permit conducting of the JEE/NEET examination," he said. He asked the state government to write to the Centre to cancel the exams.
A senior official in the Education Department said the postponement of the examinations would hamper the academic calendar and cost thousands of students a precious year.
"Shifting of the examination would call for a massive logistical exercise. Thousands of centres are to be contacted again for their availability. Also availability of supervisors and invigilators, movement of tonnes of materials and equipment like jammers and CCTV cameras are involved.
"It takes almost three months to prepare for the examination for the administration. For the students, it takes even longer to prepare for the tests. If it is postponed again, it will ruin an academic year," he said.