Minister signed a deal on Monday with shipping firm Ocean Tankers Holdings to transport drinking water to the island.

Eight million cubic metres of water is set to be shipped to Cyprus by the end of June following a sustained period of drought on the island, which is a popular tourist destination.

Last month, the government decided to impose water cuts for the first time in seven years.

Water boards across the island now provide water for eight or 12 hours in the evening every two days.

Authorities said Cyprus has a shortfall of 16m cubic metres needed to supply the population until the end of the year.

At the beginning of March last year water reserves stood at 134 cubic metres and on the same date this year reserves were only 70cm.

According to media reports, Agriculture Minister Michael Polynices said: “The Greek government has pledged to give us 8m cubic metres.

“There is an option to increase this amount. Any increase depends on the goodwill of the Greek government and any needs that may arise.”

Local media have quoted the cost of the operation at about Euro 15m.

A statement on Ocean Tankers’ website on Monday said: “We wish to inform you that on April 21, 2008, at 13.30, Ocean Tankers will sign an agreement with the Water Supply Authority for the transfer of drinking water from Greece to Cyprus.”

Kate Martin

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