Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the phone and requested him to postpone NEET and JEE exams, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and the flood situation in the state, a senior official said.

Two days ago, the CM had written a letter in this regard to Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank.

Patnaik, during his conversation with the prime minister, explained that Odisha is in the grip of a pandemic as well as flood, and students might face difficulties in appearing for the examinations, the official at the chief minister’s office told reporters.

The CM, in his letter to Nishank on Tuesday, had urged the Centre to take steps for postponing the Joint Entrance Examination (Main) and the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) as it “will be unsafe for students to physically appear for the exams amid the pandemic”.

The National Testing Agency (NTA) has scheduled medical and engineering entrance exams — NEET and JEE (Main) — in September.

Around 50,000 students in Odisha are set to appear for NEET, and over 40,000 for JEE (Main), officials said.

Over the past week, heavy rain, triggered by back-to- back formation of low-pressure systems over the Bay of Bengal, battered the state, submerging low-lying areas, snapping road links and claiming at least two lives. PTI