'Can’t Risk Safety': GAT-B, BET Candidates Want Exams Postponed

Students say it is not safe to appear for GAT-B and BET exams scheduled on 30 June.

2 min read
Students say it is not safe to appear for GAT-B and BET exams scheduled on 30 June.

“How will I travel to Kolkata in this pandemic situation?” asks 22-year-old Swapna (name changed) over the telephone from her residence in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district.

The final-year B.Sc student has been spending sleepless nights, ever since the Regional Centre for Biotechnology, under the Union Department of Biotechnology, announced that the Graduate Aptitude Test -Biotechnology (GAT-B), would be held on 30 June.

The exam is held for admissions to M.Sc, M.Tech courses in major central and private universities across the country. Additionally, DBT has announced that that Biotechnology Entrance Test (BET), conducted for admissions to PhD courses, will be conducted on 30 June as well.

Students want the exams to be postponed, as they feel it is not possible to travel to far-flung test centres in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Under normal circumstances, it wouldn’t have been that difficult for Swapna to travel around 590 kilometres to Kolkata for the entrance test. However, the present situation has made any such plan a remote possibility.

“Right now, there’s just one train going to Kolkata, that too, with very few seats. My parents don’t want me to travel alone. But they both have ailments and it’s not safe for anybody to travel at the moment.”
Swapna, Student

Swapna points out that there are only two centres for the exam in West Bengal – one in Kolkata and the other in Nadia. Both are equally far from her place of residence.

She says that even if she manages to reach Kolkata, she will find it extremely difficult to find a hotel to stay at. “They haven’t even said where the centre is or what time the test will be held. How and where are we students supposed to stay?”

Told to Appear Next Year, Students Allege

Swapna is not alone. Ronojoy (name changed) has to spend thousands of rupees to travel from his hometown Jamshedpur to Ranchi, located around 129 kilometres away.

“I don’t have so much of money to hire a car and travel to Ranchi. When we call officials, they say that we can use our admit cards as curfew passes. But it is simply not viable.”
Ronojoy, Student

Ronojoy says that the apathy of those conducting the exams has reached such a level that calls are being cut and students are being asked to reappear for exams the next year.

Thousands of kilometres away in Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly District, Amit (name changed) has to travel 278 kilometres all the way to Delhi for his Biotechnology Entrance Test. “The cab drivers are asking for Rs 12,000 to Rs 13,000 for a return trip. How can I spend so much of money for the exam?”

The solution, everyone says, is to postpone exams and conduct them at a later stage. “The least they can do is to increase number of centres in a state,” adds Ronojoy.

An email sent by The Quint to the Director, Regional Centre for Biotechnology, has not been responded to. This piece will be updated as and when a response is received.

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