In the wake of imminent drought in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Rajasthan, an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) would hold discussions with the Chief Ministers of these States in the coming week on evolving immediate relief measures, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said at a public function here on Sunday.

Mr. Pawar called for readiness on the part of all parties to face drought. He called it a ‘grave situation.’ “The availability of water and fodder have never been so low. It is necessary to ensure that drinking water to last till July 2013 is stored.”

The EGoM would hold meetings in Maharashtra on August 1, Karnataka on August 2 and Gujarat and Rajasthan on August 3.

Mr. Pawar said the situation now was different from the drought of 1972 (considered as the worst the country has seen so far). That time, people needed work and food grains, but now water and fodder were a major cause of concern. States should encourage cultivation of fodder by assuring farmers that it would be bought from them at good prices.”

Calling for cooperation in the time of the “big crisis,” Mr. Pawar said: “All parties should leave their differences aside and work together.”

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