Maintaining that it is not conducive to hold university and college exams due to the coronavirus outbreak, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday said he will write to the Centre to seek their cancellation.
In an order on July 6, the HRD Ministry had said the exams will have to be conducted by September-end. The decision by the HRD Ministry came following a nod from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Reacting to it, the CM in a press release said coronavirus cases in Punjab are increasing every day and are projected to peak in September, therefore, he was not "ready to risk the lives of students" in these circumstances.
"How can we take the risk of exposing students by bringing them together for exams at this juncture," he said in an official release while adding that he will write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for the revocation of the July 6 order.
The CM said exams cannot be held online, which the UGC had suggested as an option, since a large section of students in Punjab, especially in rural areas and among the backward communities, do not have access to an affordable and uninterrupted Internet connectivity.
"It is just not feasible to hold exams in the current situation," Singh stressed at a meeting of the Education Department to discuss the issue.
Technical Education Minister Charanjit Singh Channi too agreed with the CM's view that the situation does not allow a safe conduct of exams.
The CM said seven other states have already expressed concern on this count.
All Congress-ruled states have in fact decided to approach the Union government in this regard, said the CM.
The CM also asked state Higher Education Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa to write to his counterpart in the Union government on the issue.
He urged vice-chancellors of various institutions to write to the UGC for cancellation of exams in the light of the risk involved due to the coronavirus crisis. Education Secretary Rahul Bhandari told the CM that he has already written to the UGC chairman for the reconsideration of the guidelines issued on July 7 for conduct of terminal semester exams.
"Keeping in view the COVID-19 crisis and increasing number of patients on a daily basis, the possibility of conducting exams seems to be remote," he wrote.
He also pointed out that most of university or college hostels had been evacuated and were being used as COVID care centres and regular train/bus services has not been operationalised so far.
Thus, making it non-feasible for students to travel for their exams, he said. The Punjab government had earlier announced the cancellation of university and college examinations in the state in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It had announced to award degrees/diplomas and promote students on the basis of their past performance.
Those seeking a chance to improve their performance were allowed to take exams whenever the situation improved.