Cloud of doubt on exam camera vigil

Matriculation, intermediate begin today

By Raj Kumar & Antara Bose
  • Published 8.03.18
UNDER LENS: A CCTV camera mans a corridor of zilla school in Ranchi on Wednesday. (Manob Chowdhary)

Ranchi/Jamshedpur: Matriculation and intermediate examinations conducted by Jharkhand Academic Council begin from Thursday, but majority of the 1,300-plus venues including 97 each in Ranchi and East Singhbhum haven't yet installed mandatory surveillance cameras.

State secondary education director Vipra Bhal, in a video-conference with all the 24 district education officers on Tuesday, had directed that the Class X and XII boards be held under CCTV camera vigil. The short notice has evidently become a tall challenge for babus for whom alacrity is alien lexicon.

An official in Ranchi said Council exams were scheduled at 1,389 centres across the state. "Of the 97 here (Ranchi), matriculation will be held in all while 43 centres will also host the intermediate exam. None of the venues meets bare minimum surveillance requirements," he claimed.

This newspaper visited two centres in the state capital - Amar Shaheed Thakur Vishwanath Shahdeo Plus Two Zilla School at Shaheed Chowk and Balkrishna High School in Upper Bazaar - and ground reality was no different.

At zilla school, where 300-plus matriculation candidates and around 750 intermediate examinees are expected to turn up, only four CCTV cameras had been installed till Wednesday afternoon. And, of the four cameras, only one was installed in an examination hall. The rest cover two verandas and the main entrance. For proper surveillance, at least 15 more cameras are needed, principal Narendra Mishra admitted and hoped that these would be in place by Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

At the Upper Bazaar cradle, 391 examinees will appear for their matriculation and around 700 for intermediate. Here too, only four CCTV cameras were spotted.

Principal Divya Singh said they needed at least nine more. "I believe they will be installed by tomorrow (Thursday) evening. The first paper is music for matriculation and intermediate candidates. It is an optional subject; so, exam halls won't be that crowded. By the second half, when intermediate candidates take their geology exam, we expect more cameras," she added.

District education officer of Ranchi Ratan Kumar Mahavar on Wednesday evening claimed 15 exam venues had been equipped for surveillance. "The rest will be covered tomorrow (Thursday)," he said, but clammed up when asked to name some of these dozen-odd exam-ready centres.

In East Singhbhum, the Class X examinations will be held at 71 venues and Class XII boards in 26, including seven degree colleges. Only seven of the 97 venues, including Sakchi High School and Bharat Sevashram Uchcha Vidyalaya, Sonari, have CCTV cameras primarily because they served as evaluation centres last year.

Jamshedpur Balika Uchcha Vidyalaya in Sakchi has four cameras, but exams will be held in nine rooms, said headmistress Manju Sinha.

Besides the surveillance setback, ABM College in Golmuri complained of space crunch. Against a capacity of 400 examinees, it has been allotted 1,200. "We have a new building, but not adequate infrastructure for examinees. There are no toilets or water supply. We are arranging desks and benches from nearby schools. We host the first paper on March 10," said principal Mudita Chandra.

East Singhbhum deputy development commissioner B. Maheshwari said they had finalised four private agencies to install the cameras across centres. Work will begin on Thursday and be completed in two days, he added.

Dhalbhum SDO Madhvi Mishra on Wednesday issued a circular barring weapons, loudspeakers, processions, fireworks and public speeches within 500 yards of examination centres. It said 48 magistrates for matriculation and 18 for intermediate had been deputed.