: The armed forces, scientists and government agencies together tackled the situation arising out of cyclone Phailin with “exemplary courage and efficiency,” the Congress has said.

“Congress congratulates and records its appreciation,” party general secretary Ajay Maken said, “as well as gratitude towards Indian armed forces, the NDMA, the NDRF, the IMD, scientists and various other government agencies. They had tackled the situation arising out of Cyclone Phailin with exemplary courage and efficiency.”

If Mr. Maken issued a statement, Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Minister S. Jaipal Reddy and Minister of State for Home Mullapally Ramachandran addressed the press on the same subject at the party headquarters on Monday.

Party president Sonia Gandhi, the party said, too was in constant touch with Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and taking regular stock of the situation in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.

After the Uttarakhand disaster earlier this year, when the State government – despite warnings of impending heavy rains – was unable to blunt the ferocity of the downpour, the Centre – and the Congress – seemed determined to take as much action as possible to mitigate the impact of natural disasters – and issue a spate of statements to publicise their alertness.

Mr. Reddy, on his part, stressed that the accuracy of the predictions by the India Meteorological Department, thanks to the state-of-the art equipment it had acquired over the last few years, helped in ensuring that the Odisha and Andhra Pradesh governments – with the help of central agencies – were able to evacuate around a million people in the two States before the cyclone hit the eastern coast.

Mr. Ramachandran said the Home Ministry was in constant touch with Odisha and Andhra Pradesh to ensure that all help was forthcoming.

Earlier, Mr. Maken pointed out that the Ministries of Railway, Surface Transport, Petroleum and Telecommunication had worked with a single-minded focus on delivery. The Centre deployed 18 Army helicopters and 12 aircraft, and sent six Army columns with relief material to Odisha and four to Andhra Pradesh. Two naval ships and seven naval helicopters with relief material were kept on standby, while 26 NDRF teams were deployed in Odisha, 19 in Andhra Pradesh, three each in West Bengal and Bihar and two in Jharkhand. Forty-four satellite phones that were given to officials in the affected areas helped in unstinted communication during the worst phases of the cyclone.

Food Corporation of India godowns, Mr. Maken said, had stocked up for six months, while 50,000 tarpaulins and 100 tonnes of flattened rice were sent to the affected areas. Train services have now been restored from Puri to Howrah, Bhubaneswar airport is functional, 25 railway stations have been kept open for relief tasks, and additional locomotives kept on stand-by.

The power ministry was sending an experts team to help in restoring lines in the affected areas, while the Centre had asked all private telecom players to route signals via one tower, if needed. The oil ministry had ensured that all categories of fuel, right from aviation fuel to kerosene oil, was in abundant supply in all affected areas, he added.