Congress on Monday appeared to claim credit for effective handling of cyclone 'Phailin', saying all steps are being taken under its rule to make the country "disaster-resilient" which was evident from the Indian Meteorological Department's accurate prediction and "record" evacuation of over one million people in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
Science & Technology Minister S Jaipal Reddy along with Minister of State for Home Mullappally Ramachandran addressed a press conference at the All India Congress Committee headquarters on the achievement of IMD, National Disaster Management Authority and various government agencies in tackling the situation successfully.
"This very severe cyclone we predicted exactly. The track (of cyclone) we predicted exactly. The intensity we predicated exactly. Because of our early predication, huge evacuation took place.... Our nation can congratulate itself," Reddy said.
When asked as to why he was addressing a ministry's press conference at the AICC and whether the party was trying to take credit, he remarked, "None of us can be 'sanyasi'. Why should you grudge if I give credit to UPA. Most of the investment in IMD equipments was made during the UPA rule".
Reddy faced a number of questions on whether the Congress and the party-led government, which is taking credit for the effective handling of the cyclone, will take the blame for the failure to predict and effectively handle the massive disaster in Uttarakhand due to heavy rains in June.
But the minister's refrain was, "Uttarakhand was a multi-dimensional disaster. It did not occur because of rains alone but also due to degradation of environment. The tragedy was because the dams breached and the environment got feeble. So it was a tragedy of tremendous magnitude and all ... feel sorry".
Reddy steered clear of questions as to how much credit he would give to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance at the Centre and how much to the Biju Janata Dal government in Odisha which was the worst affected by the cyclone.
"I do not want to make any political point. IMD was making prediction after prediction for four days. The NDMA, state governments like Odisha did their job. Evacuation of one million people is a record in itself," he said. Ramchandran said the government was taking all steps to make the country "disaster-resilient".