ISLAMABAD: Minister for Water Resources Syed Javed Ali Shah on Thursday informed the Senate that National Water Policy will be announced within 10 days, conceding that due to change in hydro-meteorological conditions, river inflows remained stressed since September last year.

During the question-hour, replying to questions asked by senators Rahila Magsi, Farhatullah Babar, Mohsin Leghari and Nauman Wazir Khattak, the minister said that some key amendments are needed to be made in the document, for which 10 more days are sought by the experts.

He explained that relevant quarters in the provinces have been consulted and their input has been incorporated in the draft.

About availability of water and provinces’ shares, he said that the Indus River System Authority’s advisory committee in its meeting, had noted that during the forthcoming Rabi season, Pakistan might face a shortfall of 20 percent and that the shortages be passed on to Punjab and Sindh while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan shall remain exempted from sharing of shortages.

He said based on prevalent parameters, it is anticipated that the shortages would escalate to 36 per cent, keeping in view prevailing weather conditions, river inflows, dams storage etc. He noted Wapda had prepared a master plan to construct new dams to preserve rainwater in Pakistan.

Replying to a question by Senator Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi, Law and Justice Minister Chaudhry Mahmood Bashir Virk said that from January 2013 to March 2017, as many as 3,035 inquiries were authorized by the National Accountability Bureau while 1,251 investigations were authorized too regarding irregularities and corruption, etc, in the four provinces and the federal capital.

Moreover, the anti-graft body had filed 948 references and a total of Rs36.278 billion were recovered, whereas 582 cases of corruption were settled through plea bargain.

When asked by Syed Shibli Faraz about cases against politicians, businessmen and government officers in BPS-20 and above, the law minister said that the total number of cases against them as on January 16, 2018, stood at 930, of these 46 were against politicians, 103 against businessmen, 163 against government officers and 616 were against others.

He explained that 2,090 (inquiries) cases were decided, while 322 investigations and 467 references were decided, which brought the total number to 2,879.

In response to a question by Jehanzeb Jamaldini, Javed Shah said the annual average volume of water, which flows into the sea below Kotri Barrage, is about 29.02 millions acre feet (MAF) for the post-Tarbela (1976 onward period).

In a written answer, the minister gave data of the period and noted that escapages below Kotri in 1976-77 were recorded 64.05 MAF in Kharif and 5.03 MAF in Rabi, in 1988, 88.18 MAF in Kharif and 3.65 MAF in Rabi, whereas in 2016-17, it was recorded at 10.49 MAF in Kharif and 0.08 MAF in Rabi.

About illegal use of suction pumps and compressors by consumers, the minister said that these gadgets are not available for this purpose but on receiving such a complaint, an FIR is launched and gas is disconnected.