Climate activist Greta Thunberg on Tuesday said that it was “deeply unfair” that Indian students had been asked to appear for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test and the Joint Entrance Examination during the coronavirus pandemic, and also while millions have been impacted by extreme floods in the country. “I stand with their call to #PostponeJEE_NEETinCOVID,” she tweeted.

JEE will be conducted from September 1 to 6, while NEET will be held on September 13.

Opposition leaders urge Centre not to hold exams

While the Centre seems firm about holding these exams, various Opposition party leaders have demanded that the NEET and JEE exams be delayed.

On Tuesday, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote to Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank” against holding the exams, ANI reported. “It would be unsafe for students to visit test centres physically amid #COVID19 for JEE [Main] and NEET tests,” Patnaik wrote. “Therefore, it is requested that exams scheduled to be held in September may be postponed to a later date.”

On Monday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called for postponing the exams amid the coronavirus pandemic. “Now with the directive of Ministry of Education to conduct NEET, JEE 2020 in September, I would again appeal to the Centre to assess the risk and postpone these examinations until the situation is conducive again,” the chief minister tweeted. “It is our duty to ensure a safe environment for all our students.”

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader MK Stalin also asked Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank” to postpone the exams, PTI reported. In a letter, he said that apart from the pandemic, many places in the country have not yet recovered from the floods. Stalin also said that given the current restrictions on transportation, exam centres are not equally accessible to all students.

“It will not be possible for students belonging to rural areas and less-privileged sections to reach the exam centres,” Stalin said. “They will be put under a great disadvantage against their affluent counterparts.”

The National Testing Agency has made it clear that students have to declare that they are not Covid-19 positive or do not have any coronavirus symptoms. However, Stalin said this did not seem to be an effective method of curbing the virus. The DMK chief said that if students appearing for the exams contract the virus, there will be a high possibility of another wave of infections across the country.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in a tweet said that the government must listen to the students who have been asking for the postponement of the exams and should arrive at an acceptable solution.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, general secretary of the Congress, said that the situation with respect to the coronavirus is not conducive. If students and their parents have expressed concerns regarding the situation, then the government and testing agency should make a note of it, she added.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia alleged that the government is playing with the lives of students and requested that the government cancel the exam and arrange an alternate way of admission for this year.

The Supreme Court had allowed the National Testing Agency to conduct the JEE Main and NEET 2020 exams in the month of September. The agency has also clarified that that almost all candidates have been provided their first choice of centres.

India’s coronavirus tally rose to 31,67,323 cases after the country reported 60,975 new infections in 24 hours. The country’s toll rose by 848 to 58,390, according to the Union health ministry data.

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