The Indian Premier League’s logistical nightmares are far from over. After Mumbai Indians were forced to shift their fixtures out of drought-hit Maharashtra, the matches face an uncertain future in parched Rajasthan as well, with the High Court set to hear a Public Interest Litigation over the issue on Thursday.
Freelance journalist Mahesh Pareek, on Wednesday, filed a PIL challenging the three Mumbai Indians matches scheduled to be held at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. Citing articles 21 and 47 of the constitution, the petition filed in the Rajasthan HC seeks a stay on the matches. “The matches were shifted from Maharashtra because of drought. Well, there is a drought in Rajasthan too. The Bombay HC intervened on a similar plea, moving the matches out. We hope the Rajasthan HC also decides in our favour,” Prateek Kasliwal, the petitioner’s lawyer told The Indian Express.
“Cricket, which comes under leisure or entertainment, is at the bottom end of priorities as far as the public use of water is concerned,” he added.
The PIL—with the Rajasthan government, BCCI and RCA as respondents was admitted on Wednesday and is set to be heard on Thursday. “… A huge quantity (nearly 80 lakh litres) of water is proposed and ready to be willingly wasted by the respondent No. 1 to 4 (state government and its various water-related departments), for the purpose of maintaining the cricket pitches on the venue i.e. Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur which has been nominated for Indian Premier League 2016, replacing the State of Maharashtra in light of the order of Hon’ble Bombay High Court dated 14.04.2016,” the petition says.
The State of Rajasthan more particularly the city of Jaipur is already facing acute shortage of water as the level of water in dams and lakes in the State has gone down,” it contends. The petition points out that “19 out of 33 districts including Jaipur” faced deficit rainfall as the state received 19.23 per cent less rainfall last monsoon. It also says that 12 of the 13 blocks in Jaipur fell under “over-exploited category”.
Pointing out the water crisis in Jaipur as well as Rajasthan, the petition argues that the decision to host the matches in Jaipur was a violation of article 21 of the constitution. It even invokes one of the Directive Principles of State Policy, under article 47, against the state government’s decision to host IPL matches.
MI-RPS match per schedule
Meanwhile, calling it an exception, the Bombay High Court, on Tuesday, permitted Pune to host the May 1 Indian Premier League game between Rising Pune Supergiants and Mumbai Indians. Earlier, the court had asked the BCCI to shift the IPL games scheduled for May out of Maharashtra because of the acute water shortage in the state. On Tuesday, a division bench of Justices VM Kanade and MS Karnik passed the order after hearing an application filed by BCCI’s general manager Ratnakar Shetty urging the court to let the cricket body hold the May 1 IPL match as scheduled in Pune.
The application said it was “practically impossible” for the BCCI and the Pune franchise to shift the May 1 match to an another venue outside Maharashtra and “make all arrangements for the same in just a single day”.”We are satisfied that it may not be possible for the teams to shift outside Maharashtra in one day. We are therefore of the view that taking into consideration practical problems which may arise in shifting the venue of the match on May 1 outside Maharashtra at such short notice, by way of exception we permit to hold the match on May 1, in Pune,” said the HC.
Appearing for BCCI, senior counsel Rafique Dada pointed out that Rising Pune Supergaints were supposed to play against the Gujarat Lions at 8 pm on April 29, and against Mumbai Indian on May 1 at 8 pm. “As per accepted international practice, there has to be a gap of two days between the matches. In order to enable the players and crew to travel, practice and also for the shifting of television production equipment, it may not be possible to shift the venue of the match,” he said.
Advocate Ankita Verma, appearing for the petitioner NGO Loksatta Movement that filed a public interest litigation seeking that IPL matches not be permitted in Maharashtra, argued that the water level of dams in Maharashtra had declined and hence permission should not be granted.