Prime Minister Indira Gandhi has called for a 12-point emergency plan to prevent famine in seven Indian states hit by severe drought. Mrs. Gandhi, who visited some of the most arid areas in northern Uttar Pradesh State, said she was so shocked by conditions that she ordered provisions of drinking water put on a war footing. the plan says drilling rigs should be mobilized for boring and deepening wells in the most seriously affected areas.
The plan calls for strong measures against black marketeers, profiteers, and hoarders; intensification of a food-for-work program; and the appointments of full-time relief officers for the districts most seriously affected by food scarcity and unemployment.
Agriculture Minister Rao Birendra Singh has forwarded the plan to the state administrations in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh.
Mrs. Gandhi's plan also calls for the opening of a controlled-price shop for every 2,000 people and the establishment of feeding centers for children, nursing mothers, pregnant women, and the destitute who cannot be employed.
The Statesman newspaper reported that 42,812 of the 78,402 villages in Bihar, one of India's poorest states, had been affected by the drought and that 30 million people in the northern state were short for food.