KARACHI - A high-level meeting chaired by President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday decided to overcome water shortage in Sindh by reducing the flows of Taunsa-Panjnand, and if needed be closed. Sindh Information Minister Shazia Marri said this at a media briefing after the meeting was held at Bilawal House to discuss water shortage in the province. The meeting was informed that due to lack of water in River Indus, Sindh was expected to face acute water shortage. Provincial Minister for Irrigation and Power, Syed Murad Ali Shah, had raised the issue of expected water shortages in a meeting with President Zardari on June 20 and in the light of that the latter called an urgent meeting here on Wednesday. Sindh Governor Dr Ishrat ul Ebad Khan, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Sardar Assef Ahmed Ali, ministers, Secretary General to President, Salman Farooqui, officials of the ministry of water and power, IRSA and WAPDA also attended the meeting. It was decided in the meeting that there would be no further storage in Tarbela, which had started from 17th June due to some technical problem in turbines. The decision to stop storing water in Tarbela was taken to meet the requirements of people in the downstream. President Zardari reiterated the commitment to serve people as per the vision of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. He issued special directives to ensure that the land-grant policy should focus on women in particular. The President also gave directives to initiate a study on Manchar Lake and find ways to cleanse the polluted water even if it flows to the sea. The sea must not be polluted with acid water, she said while quoting the President. About National Highway Authority, the major decisions taken regarding construction of highways were to immediately start work on Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway (M9) at a cost of Rs8 billion. Work on M9 will start in October 2009 and is expected to complete by the end of 2011. The President also approved a comprehensive uplift package worth over Rs24 billion for Larkana. A special meeting on fisheries was held as a follow-up of Presidents visit to the European Union (EU) in which it was decided that the Karachi Fish Harbour would be upgraded in accordance with the EU requirements. The President directed Sindh government to accelerate the fish production in rural Sindh. It was also decided that a welfare plan would be designed for the fishermen in Sindh, which would ensure better income opportunities for them. Besides, the fishermen, who were facing huge financial losses due to the closure of fishing work, will be compensated through Benazir Income Support Programme. President Zardari was also briefed on various ongoing projects related to fisheries sector in Sindh with an estimated cost of Rs4 billion. Online adds: Zardari directed the IRSA authorities to ensure water distribution among the provinces in line with 1991 water accord, and Sindhs due share from Mangla Dam. The President on the demand of Sindh government directed IRSA not to store additional water in Tarbela until the water situation in Sindh was improved, and close down Taunsa-Punjnad link canal from Thursday. A participant of the meeting told Online that the Sindh government registered a strong protest against Punjab for getting water through Taunsa-Punjnad link canal, and demanded of the President to prevent Punjab from doing that forthwith as it was causing an acute water shortage in Sindh. The Sindh representatives were of the view that according to 1991 water accord, Punjab could get water through Taunsa-Punjnad link canal in case of heavy rains or heavy water flow, but, they added, Punjab had continuously been getting water through the said canal. The Sindh government also demanded an equal water share from Mangla in order to overcome the simmering shortage in the province. The meeting also decided that Punjab and Sindh would equally share the water shortage. Talking to newsmen after the meeting, the Sindh irrigation minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah said that Punjab till today (Wednesday) was getting 3000 cusecs water through Taunsa-Punjnad canal, which from Thursday would be provided to Sindh following the closure of the respective canal. He said that Punjab would get additional water from Mangla so that it should not get water from Sindh share. The minister said that in case of excessive water, 10-million acre/feet water would be released from Kotri Barrage per day.