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Maharashtra drought: Bombay High Court suggests shifting IPL matches to other states

"People don't get water in Marathwada for three to four days. This is a criminal waste," said the High Court.

Written by Ruhi Bhasin | Mumbai | Updated: April 12, 2016 1:47:11 pm
Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium is scheduled to host the opening ceremony on April 8. (File Photo) Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium is scheduled to host the opening ceremony on April 8. (File Photo)

QUESTIONING IF people aren’t more important than Indian Premier League matches, the Bombay High Court said on Wednesday that the use of water for maintaining cricket pitches was a criminal waste. The court suggested shifting the 20 matches which are to be played in Maharashtra to other states. “People don’t get water in Marathwada for three to four days. This is a criminal waste,” said the High Court. The court has now asked the acting Advocate General Rohit Deo to be present for the next hearing.

A division Bench headed by Justice VM Kanade were hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Loksatta Movement and others stated that as much as 60 lakh litres of water is proposed to be used for maintaining cricket pitches in the three venues that will host the IPL matches in Maharashtra. It further states that drinking water is a priority in accordance with the state water policy. The petitioner was represented by lawyers Arshil Shah and Ankita Verma.

Watch video Discussing The IPL Water Controversy

The IPL is set to begin from April 9 with the first match to be played in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium while the opening ceremony will be held on April 8. A total of 20 matches will be played in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur. The final is also scheduled to be held at the Wankhede Stadium on May 29. The HC has now asked the government to inform them what they propose to do and the steps it plans to take in such a situation. With the petitioner asking for court to pass orders to restrain MCA from using water for preparing grounds, Justice Kanade said that this issue would be considered on Thursday.

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Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) told the court while the pitches had already been prepared, they are only using non-potable tanker water to maintain them. “There has been a 2 percent decline in the water levels in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur in the last one week and the monsoons are still 10 to 12 weeks away. Water needs to be conserved. The water that is to be used in IPL can be utilised for drinking and sanitation purposes,” said Shah.

Shah further said that recycled water should be used for maintaining cricket pitches especially looking at scarcity of water in the state. “In Latur, government hospitals have had to shut down because of non-availability of water,” he said.

Verma also informed the court about the 60-hour water cuts being faced by residents of Thane and the suspension of water supply to industries due to shortage of water in the state. “Only when BCCI’s water supply will be cut will they understand,” said the court.

Onus on BCCI

The counsel for MCA pointed out that no potable water was being used for maintenance of pitches but agreed that a contingency plan needed to be prepared in a time-bound manner. MCA also said that it was not holding matches and this decision was taken by the Board of Cricket for Cricket in India (BCCI). The lawyer for BCCL, meanwhile, maintained that unless they were told that the agencies concerned won’t be able to prepare the stadiums, they won’t be able to cancel the matches.

With the court questioning MCA on how much water was required for the eight matches to be held in Mumbai, it was informed that 40 lakh litres of non-potable water was required to maintain the pitch and outfield. “Ultimately the state government is responsible. They have to do something. When you know such huge quantity of water is to be used, there must be some restraint. We are not against IPL but 40 lakh liters for maintaining pitches is a lot,” said the High Court.

Government lawyer Geeta Shastri said that they needed to ascertain under what power and under who’s authority was water being provided through tankers to MCA. “We have told Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation that drinking water is a priority. If water is being procured by illegal means then also BMC is the authority,” she said.

‘Champion’ dance for opening

Dwayne Bravo’s smash-hit rap ‘Champion dance’ during the opening ceremony and the use of LED light stumps are the two major attractions of the ninth edition of Indian Premier League, said tournament chairman Rajeev Shukla. Bravo, who will be playing for the new team Gujarat Lions, is expected to perform the ‘Champion Dance’ that has now become a rage among the cricket fans of India and IPL is trying to cash in on its popularity.

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