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In a first, medical entrance exam NEET-UG will be conducted in 13 languages with Malayalam and Punjabi as new additions, the newly-appointed Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan announced on Tuesday.

Pradhan also said that a new exam centre for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) has been opened in Kuwait to facilitate the Indian student community in the Middle East.

"Registrations for the NEET(UG) 2021 has started on http://ntaneet.nic.in from 5:00 pm today. For the first time in the history of NEET(UG) exam and in order to facilitate the Indian student community in the middle east, an examination centre has been opened in Kuwait," he tweeted.

"The NEET(UG) 2021 will be for the first time conducted in 13 languages with new addition of Punjabi and Malayalam," Pradhan said.

The languages, which are now being offered, are -- Hindi, Punjabi, Assamese, Bengali, Odia, Gujarati, Marathi, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil, Urdu and English.

The Education Minister had on Monday announced that the NEET, which was earlier scheduled on 1 August, will now be conducted on 12 September. The application process for NEET-UG started at 5 pm today.

In order to ensure social distancing norms, the number of cities where the examination will be conducted has been increased from 155 to 198. The number of examination centres will also be increased from the 3,862 centres used in 2020.

"To ensure adherence to Covid-19 protocols, face mask will be provided to all candidates at the centre. Staggered time slots during entry and exit, contactless registration, proper sanitisation, seating with social distancing etc. will also be ensured," the minister said.

Last year, it was conducted on 13 September amid strict precautions in view of the coronavirus pandemic. As many as 13.66 lakh candidates had appeared in the exam of whom 7,71,500 qualified.

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