KARACHI - Anticipating more than 30 per cent shortage in the availability of water in the country for the coming crops season, the Indus River System Authority in Pakistan has reduced the share of water of Punjab and Sindh provinces for the next crops. According to the IRSA's estimate the country would have 24 million acre feet of water for the coming 'Rabi' season crops against the average requirement of 35 million acre feet. The next season's major cash crops are wheat and sugarcane. Chairman Indus River System Authority Bashir Dahr told The Nation the Punjab province would get 13.3 million acre feet of water for wheat, sugarcane and other seasonal crops against its share of 18.87 million acre feet while the Sindh province would receive 9.871 MAF against its share of 14.82 MAF. Chairman IRSA said the share of water of other two provinces, NWFP and Balochistan (the least developed provinces in the country), would not be curtailed for the coming season of crops. He pointed out that the wheat and other crops' production could suffer next year because of the shortage of water. Chairman IRSA Bashir Dahr said the water situation could improve in case the country received more rains during the winter season. He said normally the winter rains start every year in January and February that improve the water level in reservoirs and we hope the water situation would improve early next year. Majid Nizamani, a representative of growers in Sindh, said the actual water shortage could exceed the current estimate of around 30pc in the coming rabi season. He said the production of major crops like wheat and sugarcane could decline due to the shortage of water. Nizamani said the last week the federal govt has increased the support price of wheat from Rs625/40kg to Rs950/40kg with the aim to achieve autarky in its production. But the shortage of water could prove a blow to the govt and the growers ambition of achieving self-reliance in the output of the commodity next year. Hamid Malhi, who represents the growers in Punjab province, said the production of wheat in the province would suffer badly because of less than required availability of water. He said the Punjab province produces 16 million tons or 80pc of the total wheat production in the country and the govt should make efforts to increase water supply to the province to enhance wheat's yield.