Bombay High Court on Friday held that the state government’s permission to Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) to lift water from Pawana river to maintain Pune’s Gahunje stadium is “completely illegal.” The court was earlier informed that MCA has applied for renewal of the agreement issued by the state government in 2012, which said that water will be made available to the MCA for drinking purposes and for industrial use. A division bench of Justice A S Oka and Justice R I Chagla had observed: “We fail to understand as to how water can be supplied to the MCA for industrial purpose as, admittedly, the said Association is not running any industry.”
The court had directed that no decision shall be taken by the state government on the MCA’s application for renewal of the agreement. Stating that the sate government is not entitled to grant permission” to MCA, the court also said that they have accepted the statement from MCA that, “no water supply is being taken from the Municipal Corporation for maintaining the ground and pitches in Wankhade Stadium.”
The court accepted the BMC affidavit, stating that they will not supply water to the MCA for maintaining grounds and pitches in the Wankhede Stadium. A PIL was by NGO Loksatta Movement in 2016. The petitioners claimed 60 lakh litres of water is proposed to be used for maintaining cricket pitches at the three venues for IPL 2016, in Maharashtra.
The court had earlier notices to MCA, asking how they plan to provide water for matches held at the Pune stadium. An affidavit was filed by Riyaz Bagwan, Secretary, MCA, stating that by way of agreement with the irrigation department, they were permitted to lift 2.40 lakh litres of water per day from Pawana for Gahunje stadium. By making conservative use of water, the stadium was now using 50,000 litres every day. The affidavit had said they lift raw water from the river and treat it in a plant in the stadium for its use. The affidavit says that MCA has a water storage tank beneath the concourse level of the stadium with a capacity of 16 lakh litres.