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வியாழன், ஏப்ரல் 21, 2011

Polls put government colleges in a predicament

CUDDALORE: 

           The Assembly elections have put government colleges in a predicament as they have invariably doubled up as examination and counting centres.

           Therefore, even though in the midst of conducting the academic year-end university examinations, these colleges would have to provide adequate space for accommodating the electronic voting machines and the security personnel till the counting is over.

            In playing the dual role, these colleges are facing practical difficulties and logistic problems. For instance, three government arts colleges in Cuddalore district such as Periyar Government Arts College located near the Silver Beach and two others at Vriddhachalam and Chidambaram are the designated counting centres for the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. Hitherto, these colleges have never faced such a piquant situation as of now, mainly because of the extended schedule for counting slated for May 13, exactly a month after the polling was over on April 13.

            Students and lecturers are seen going hither and thither inside Periyar Government Arts College, unmindful of the security drill and the armed personnel perching atop the watchtowers erected on the college campus. It defies the notion that the counting centres are the heavily guarded fortresses that cannot be easily accessed by commoners. Of the three wings of the college, the middle one has been taken over by the election authorities to be used as strongrooms for storing the EVMs of the four Assembly constituencies such as Cuddalore, Panruti, Kurinjipadi and Neyveli.

           While the first wing has been used as the administrative block, the third one is serving as examination centre. The students, numbering over 6,000, have been visiting the college in batches to take the examinations. Hence, the college has been bubbling with activity throughout the day. The security personnel at the main entrance verify their identity cards before allowing them inside and the lecturers are also subjected to the same rigour. Principal in-charge of the college K. Renganathan told The Hindu that after the EVMs were stored, the movement of the staff and students was restricted.

           On April 16, the students who did not bring their identity cards had difficulty in entering the college to get their hall tickets and, therefore, each of them had to be personally identified by the lecturers for gaining entry. A farewell party to be hosted in honour of two retiring professors on April 19 could not be held owing to opposition from political parties in holding any such event on the college premises. Mr. Renganathan further said that given the large number of students neither the examinations could be postponed nor could the venue be changed.

           Moreover, under the Thiruvalluvar University, there were 96 colleges all of which would have to complete the examinations, take up the valuation work, publish the results and start the admission procedures for the coming academic year within a time frame. Therefore, to avoid any further complication in this aspect, the university had allowed the colleges to conduct the examinations in two spells - one from April 16 to May 10, and, another from May 16 to 21. On an average, about 1,000 students were sitting for the examination every day, he said.

             Superintendent of Police Ashwin Kotnis said that since the strongrooms were fully secured there need not be any concern over their safety. Other than the entry of students, the thoroughfares running along these colleges were either cordoned off or vehicular traffic was diverted.

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