500+ miss NEET due to centre change, train delay

Students after writting National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to MBBS, BDS courses, conducted by National Testing Agency at Army Public School, Kamraj Road in Bengaluru on Sunday. Photo by S K Dinesh

More than 500 students missed the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) on Sunday, with about 200 denied the opportunity due to change in an exam centre while more than 300 students failed to make it to the venue due to a five-hour train delay.

At Presidency School on Doddaballapur Road in Avalahalli, students were shocked to know that their exam centre had been shifted to Dayanand Sagar University on Hosur Road, about 40 km away.

Two days ago, the National Testing Authority (NTA) had notified about the change in centres across south Indian states - Karnataka, Tamil Nadu,  Kerala. However, students said this was not conveyed to them. Even on Sunday, candidates who logged in to download the admission ticket could see the name of the old exam centre.

“Students started turning up near the school from 11 am. Several turned up after 12. They were shocked to know about the change,” Shivanna, Karnataka state teachers association president told DH.

“Some students had reached the venue by bus, auto-rickshaw and taxis. So we are requesting the parents who come by car to drop them to the other centre. This is absolute negligence and irresponsibility on the part of NTA. How can students reach an exam centre far away by 1:30 pm?” 

It was common sight to see students boarding others’ car and rushing towards the venue. “We don’t know whether they have reached on time or not,” Shivanna added.

Train delay

The Hampi Express, in which more than 300 students from various places in north Karnataka were travelling to Bengaluru for the exam, was delayed by more than 5 hours, forcing students to miss the exam.

The railways said the train was run on diverted route due to ongoing work at the Guntakal-Kalluru section and the same was notified to the passengers and public on May 1. Instead of Bellary-Guntakal-Dharmavaram-Penukonda-Yelahanka, the train was diverted on Bellary-Rayadurga-Chikjajur-Arsikere-Tumakuru route, which is 120 km longer and involves engine reversal at Bellary.

However, the train’s departure from Hubballi itself was delayed by two hours. Hampi Express left Hubballi at 8.20 pm instead of 6.20 pm. It reached Bengaluru at 2.20 pm, instead of 6.10 am.

A few students writing the exam, however, said they received calls with recorded-voice message informing about the change in exam centres. Emails were also sent to inform about the change, they said.

At Dayananda Sagar College, exam authorities allowed students to take test at 3.15. "Three students who came late and fainted were given first aid. They rested for some time following which they did take the test. However, it was obvious that they could not perform well," officials said.

CM, railways promise to seek re-exam

Chif Minister HD Kumaraswamy tweeted about the problem and requested the central ministers to allow students another opportunity to write the exam. “I request PM @narendramodi, Rail Minister @PiyushGoyal, @HRDMinistry @Prakash Javadekar to intervene and ensure that students who have missed the opportunity today get another chance to write NEET2019,” he tweeted.

South Western Railway Chief Public Relations Officer E Vijaya said they will write to they will write to Ministry of Human Resource Development to conduct re-exam for students who traveled by Hampi express.

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