BHUBANESWAR: Four eminent persons from Odisha have been selected to receive the country’s fourth highest civilian award, Padma Shri, as per an announcement made in New Delhi on Thursday.
Noted agriculture researcher Kamala Pujari of Koraput, eminent social activists D Prakash Rao and Daitari Nayak and noted litterateur Gita Mehta have been named in list of 113 persons. While names of Pujari, Nayak and Rao have figures and residents of Odisha, Mehta’s name has been placed among non-resident Indians of Odisha origin.
According to reports, Gita Mehta, sister of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, has declined to receive the award citing ‘timing not right’ to be conferred with such a highest honour.
In a statement issued from New York, Gita Mehta said, “I am deeply honoured that the Government of India should think me worthy of a Padma Shri but with great regret I feel I must decline as there is a general election looming and the timing of the award might be misconstrued, causing embarrassment both to the Government and myself, which I would much regret.”
While Pujari is known for promoting traditional paddy firming and organic farming, D Prakash Rao and Daitari Nayak are known for their social services. They will receive the award from the President at a function to be held sometime in March or April this year.