Union Science and Technology Minister S. Jaipal Reddy claimed that the evacuation of one million people ahead of cyclone Phailin was the largest such exercise in the world, and said the United Progressive Allaince government had invested around Rs.750 crore in technological upgradation of the met department over the past years.
"These investments were made during the UPA regime ... None of us can be sanyasis (saints)," Reddy told reporters when asked why was he addressing the media over an issue related to his ministry from the headquarters of the All India Congress Committee (AICC).
"The prediction of the track and intensity of the cyclone was exact," Reddy said.
"Evacuation of around one million people in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh was a world record," the minister said.
The money invested was used to buy high-tech radars, computers and other equipment to improve the quality of weather prediction, said the minister.
According to the minister, the deaths, 16 in Odisha and one in Andhra Pradesh, were due to "pre- and post-cyclone accidents".
"It could have been due to a tree which fell or a wall collapse," Reddy said.
Asked why the government's disaster management was not up to the mark during the Uttarakhand floods, the minister said the situation in the hill state was different.
Thousands were feared to have perished in the floods which hit Uttarakhand in June.
"The Uttarakhand situation was a multi-dimensional disaster. The heavy rains coupled with breaches in dams and environmental factors resulted in the heavy casualty," said Reddy.
"But we could predict heavy rains 24 hours in advance," he said.
Minister of State for Home M. Ramachandran, who accompanied Reddy, congratulated the various agencies involved in the relief and rescue work.
--IANS (Posted on 14-10-2013)