CHENNAI: After weeks of speculation, the Centre on Sunday finally indicated it was okay with exempting Tamil Nadu from NEET-based undergraduate medical admissions this year. Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the Centre was willing to make a consideration based on State’s submission that the new examination system would put rural students at a disadvantage.
The exemption is only for admissions to government colleges and government quota seats in private colleges. Private colleges in the State can admit students to fill the management quota based on the NEET score alone.
Since the past few weeks, the State government had intensely lobbied in Delhi for the NEET exemption. Chief Minister ‘Edappadi’ K Palaniswami gave the final push when he visited New Delhi on Friday and took it up with Prime Minister Modi.
Soon after Sitharaman made her statement, Health Minister C Vijaya Basker met the Chief Minister at his residence. He later thanked Sitharaman and said the State Health Secretary would leave for Delhi on Sunday night to submit a fresh Ordinance to the Central government.
“Last time, we gave Special Ordinance (seeking exemption) for two years. Now, the Union Health Ministry asked us to submit (ordinance seeking exemption) for one year,” he told Express.
Hours later, Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan along with two other senior officials left for Delhi. They are expected to submit the ordinance to Union Home Ministry officials around 10 am on Monday. “The Home Ministry will take opinion from the Health, HRD and Law ministries and then give its assent,” Vijaya Basker said.
“After that, the Governor has to give his approval. Once the process is complete the State would set the UG admission process rolling.” Asked to explain the delay in the Centre’s decision, which resulted in the engineering counselling being wrapped up before the medical one, Basker said it was due to legal complications.
On Sitharaman’s categorical statement that no permanent exemption is possible, he said from next year steps would be taken to avoid last-minute confusion. Predictably, a section of the students are upset as they feel the exemption would help only rural students.