KARACHI - The Federal Agriculture Ministry and provinces have questioned the water availability figures forecasted by Indus River System Authority (IRSA) for current Rabi season 2009-10, official sources told The Nation. The IRSA, a national body for water distribution among the provinces, has already unveiled the water availability figures of 25.96 MAF in the country for current Rabi season 2009-10, which is 29 per cent less than average system usage of 36.386 MAF during October to March period of Rabi season. The data of water availability for Rabi season was provided by IRSA before the Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) which recently met in the chair of Federal Agriculture Minister Nazar M Gondal in Islamabad. Sources confirmed that the Federal Agriculture Ministry as well as Agriculture Departments of Sindh and Punjab has also showed their concerns over the water availability estimates. Sources in Federal Agriculture Ministry questioned the authenticity of IRSAs forecast of water availability during Rabi season, saying that last year also IRSA provided water availability estimates but when the season progressed the availability position turned out quite different. IRSA, in its presentation to Federal Committee on Agriculture, unveiled the average system usage of water during October to March of Rabi season, said that average usage water in Punjab is 19.751 MAF, Sindh 14.912 MAF, NWFP 0.701 and Balochistan is 1.022 MAF, sources added. Quoting the presentation of IRSA made before FCA, sources said that against the average usage, the anticipated availability in Rabi 2009-10 would be 13.83 MAF, 10.41 MAF, 0.7MAF and 1.02 MAF in Punjab, Sindh, NWFP and Balochistan respectively. However, the total anticipated availability at country level would be 25.96 MAF against average system usage of 36.386 MAF, showing 29 per cent shortfall of water in the country during Rabi season, sources said. Sources in IRSA pointed out that the general shortage of water in the country had been estimated at 23 per cent during 1st October to 30th November of current Rabi season, claiming that Punjab shared 26 per cent and Sindh suffered 23 per cent shortfall of water during this period. Meanwhile, Sindh has urged that IRSA that additional 3000 cusecs of water be released for the province as it had got only 32000 cusecs than its share of 35000 cusecs of water decided by the IRSA for current Rabi season. President Sindh Abadgar Board Abdul Majeed Nizamani while talking to The Nation said though the water shortage in the country has been estimated over 28 per cent for current Rabi season, but presently the Sindh province is facing about 40 per cent shortage. He pointed out that the growers of rice in Sindh have also brought their land under cultivation for wheat but prevailing water shortage will badly affect the production of the wheat in the province. Nizamani maintained that at least 75 per cent targeted area in Sindh has been made under wheat cultivation so far, which needs first watering. He also predicted the increase than prevailing level of water shortage in the province. He also termed that the IRSA is not independent body, but it is under control of Federal Ministry of Water and Power, which has priority to fill the dams for electricity purpose. Meanwhile, Metrology Department of Pakistan has informed the Federal Agriculture Ministry that actual monsoon rains were 30 per cent below normal. However, snowfall during the season was better which filled the dams, while wide rains are also expected during end of this month (December) to March 2010.