STATING that the court “cannot act as a mute spectator and ignore the plight of people”, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday said all the Indian Premier League matches scheduled to be played in Maharashtra from April 30 onwards should be shifted out from the state. The order will affect 13 matches, including the final that was to be held in Mumbai on May 29.
As the court has given the BCCI and the league 15 days for venue shifting, it means six matches – three each in Mumbai and Pune – will go ahead as per the schedule. The court has also directed the BCCI to ensure 64 lakh litres of water be supplied to drought-affected villages, which will be nominated by the court.
The court arrived at the decision despite the BCCI’s submission that the Mumbai and Pune teams were to use sewage-treated water for the maintenance of the pitches and had agreed to contribute Rs five crore each to CM’s drought-relief fund.
“We agree that merely shifting of IPL matches out of the state will not be a solution, but diverting water to villages which otherwise would have been used for maintaining pitches will help resolve the problem to a large extent,” the said a division bench of Justice V M Kanade and M S Karnik, who were hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Loksatta Movement and others.
“We were informed that RWITC (Royal Western India Turf Club) will supply sewage-treated water for maintenance of pitches. In our view it will not be possible for court or government to monitor if this is being done even as RWITC has given an undertaking stating the same. This does not satisfy us,” said the bench, adding that doubts had been raised over treating of sewage water and using it for other purposes.
Of the 13 matches that will now be relocated, four were to be played in Mumbai, six, including the qualifier and the eliminator, in Pune, three in Nagpur, Kings XI Punjab’s second ‘home’.
“Court cannot be blind to the plight of millions of people. In certain areas, livestock are dying due to scarcity of water. In areas like Latur, water is being supplied twice in a month. The condition is the same in cities next to Mumbai like Thane, Kalyan. Even Pune is reeling under severe water shortage,” pointed out Justice Kanade.
Earlier, arguing for BCCI and Pune franchises counsels had told the court shifting out the matches would have financial implications on the team and it would also disturb the brand value of the team.