ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Power Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari Friday said the government will announce first ever National Water Policy by the end of this month.

Addressing the concluding ceremony of “UN/Pakistan/PSIPW 4th International Conference on the Use of Space Technology for Water Management, he said the main features of the policy would include reduction in land losses, pricing of water, crop zoning and efficient utilization of water in agriculture sector.

The minister said water is more serious issue for Pakistan. He said the country is currently facing serious water challenges as its population is expected to rise up to 250 million by the year 2025 which will further reduce per-capita water availability. Awais said agriculture is the backbone of the country and the water shortage bears excessive and severe socio-economic impact.

The minister said that Pakistan is world’s 26 most water stressed country facing severe water scarcity making it a more serious issue than terrorism. “Water resource management issues have become so pressing that the World Economic Forum (WEF) named water as one of its top challenges two years in a row. Global water challenges require multi-sectoral solutions.

The participation of experts from all over the world signifies the importance of this concern”, he said.

He said by 2025, the population of the country would be expected to cross 250 million, further reducing our per capita annual budget.

He said Pakistan reserves only 10percent of the annual inflow of water but according to international standard, 40 percent should be preserved.

The conference was organized by United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco), on behalf of Government of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz International Prize for Water (PSIPW), Saudi Arabia and Inter-Islamic Network on Space Science and Technology (Isnet).

The minister said, “We need to use water efficiently and it can be carried out through well-defined water property rights besides reuse of sea water through desalination and building additional water storage facilities”

He said space technology could provide not only cost efficient and effective methods of water management but also accurately monitors and predicts long term trends of depletion of resources.

Suparco chairman Qaiser Anees Khurrum, in his address welcomed United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz International Prize for Water (PSIPW) and Inter Islamic Network for Space Science and Technology (Isnet) for providing relentless support to arrange this conference.

Focal person of UNOOSA Lurant Czaran shared that this conference provided an opportunity to local and international participants to discuss key issues and counter measures for water management using space technology.

Scientists, eminent scholars from America, Australia, Africa, Canada, China, Jordan, Siberia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey presented papers and delivered presentations in this five daylong conference.