Transport woes hassle NEET candidates in West Bengal – Times of India

KOLKATA: Candidates appearing for medical entrance exam NEET in West Bengal had a difficult time reaching their test centres on Sunday, as local train services remained suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and cabs charged exorbitant fares citing hike in fuel prices. Pabitra Sadhukhan, a candidate from Sodepur in North 24 Parganas district, said he had to shell out Rs 3,500 to book a cab to a Salt Lake exam centre.

“I did not want to take a chance as no direct bus is available to Saltlake from my area of residence in Sodepur. Suspension of local trains has only added to our woes. The cab driver agreed to drop us to the centre, and I did not want to bargain and waste time,” Sadhukhan said.

Biren Gupta, a resident of Purulia, said he was stuck in a traffic jam for around an hour due to a political rally in Barjora area of neighbouring Bankura district, but managed to reach the centre in the nick of time.

“It took me time to settle down, as I reached the centre just about 15 minutes before the exam commenced. However, I tried and attempted as many questions as I could,” Khanna said, after the exams ended at 5 pm.

An estimated 77,061 candidates were slated to sit for the exams in 189 centres across the state, sources in the National Testing Agency said.

In the city, however, the students could avail Metro services, as the rapid transit system resumed operations on Sunday, after about six months, and ran special trains for the NEET examinees on the first day.

COVID-19 safety guidelines were implemented in all exam centres, and candidates had their temperature checked with a thermal gun outside the hall. Each of them was given a fresh mask, and a six-foot gap was maintained between two benches.

West Bengal and five other states had appealed to the Supreme Court for postponement of the JEE (Main) and NEET exams, but their pleas were dismissed.

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