Tirunelveli: Government on Sunday rejected noted playback singer S Janaki's claim that artistes from south were generally neglected in Padma awards. "There is no bias towards any state in selecting the awardees. But she had stated she was not interested in receiving the award because south Indians were neglected. It is not so. There is no question of south Indians being neglected," Minister of State in the PMO V Narayanasamy said.
An expert committee, which scrutinises the applications for various awards, select the names and send them to the Cabinet Secretary. Then the Prime Minister and the President decide the recipients, he said, adding that Janaki should accept the award.
75-year-old Janaki, who has sung over 20,000 songs in Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu and Hindi during her over five decade-long career, yesterday declined to accept the award citing apparent delay and 'neglect' of south Indians.
Referring to the Kundankulam Nuclear Power Plant, Narayanasamy said 99.8 per cent of work had been completed and the Atomic Energy Department had implemented all 17 safety aspects stipulated by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.
Power generation would begin shortly, he said, adding that the authorities had been requested to complete the tests at the earliest. The Indo-Russian project was delayed due to protests by locals on safety concerns.
On the controversy over actor Kamal Haasan's film 'Vishwaroopam', which has run into protests by Muslims, he said both sides should talk and sort out the issue. As India was a secular country, people belonging to any religion should not be affected in any way, he said.
Denying Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's charge that the Centre had reduced development funds for Tamil Nadu, the minister said Rs 24,000 crore was being allocated as against Rs 20,000 crore during the previous DMK regime. Of this, Rs 16,000 crore had been allocated for centrally sponsored schemes.
The Minister defended the hike in diesel price, saying it was done following steep increase in international crude price.