The Joint Entrance Examinations for admission to the Indian Institutes of Technology will begin on Tuesday, despite protests by opposition parties and some students. While JEE will be held from Tuesday, the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test will take place on September 13.

The JEE exam will be conducted from Tuesday with strict physical distancing measures and other precautions in place, amid the coronavirus pandemic. The examinations have already been postponed twice this year. They begin after the Supreme Court rejected a petition by 11 students calling for further postponement. Additionally, on August 29, six Opposition-ruled states filed a last-minute plea in the top court to review its earlier order.

Last week, the National Testing Agency, which is in charge of the examinations, released an extensive list of rules and guidelines for students taking the exams. It included mandatory use of face masks and gloves, compulsory carrying of sanitiser and a water bottle. Candidates must wash their hands with soap and water before entering the exam centre. The agency has increased the number of testing centres to enable physical distancing.

The NTA has also sought a self-declaration from students that they do not suffer from any symptoms of the coronavirus. Exam centres will have isolation rooms for those whose temperatures measure above a certain limit.

As of 6 pm on Monday, 12.75 lakh students had downloaded the admit cards for NEET, while 7.78 lakh had done so for JEE, NDTV reported. The NTA has said that around 8.58 lakh students have registered for JEE.

The states of Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have said they will provide transportation to students to the exam centre. The Indian Railways has announced that it will allow students and their guardians to travel by special suburban train services in Mumbai on exam days.

The Opposition has lashed out at the Centre for holding the exams during the pandemic. On August 29, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that the safety of students should not be compromised because of the “failures of the government”. “The government must listen to all stakeholders and arrive at a consensus,” he added. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had also asked the Narendra Modi-led government to defer the exams in students’ interest.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had alleged that the Centre is risking the lives of students by being adamant about conducting the exams.