THE IPL organizers’ quest to find a feasible solution to the issue of hosting their displaced matches in May continues to hit roadblocks at every turn, and their logistical nightmare only continues to turn more ominous. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court dismissed the joint appeal by Maharashtra and Mumbai Cricket Associations against the Bombay High Court order to shift IPL matches out of the drought-hit state. To make matters worse, the status of Jaipur and Raipur, which were supposed to be the alternate venues once Maharashtra lost its hosting rights too now seem to be in limbo.
On the same day, the Rajasthan High Court asked the state government to file a comprehensive reply on how it planned to supply water for three IPL matches—as home ground for Mumbai Indians—as well as an action plan and policy for dealing with the water scarcity in the state over the next two months of harsh summer. If that’s not enough, the High Court of Bilaspur has taken cognizance of the petitions filed by Chandrashekhar Shukla, president of the Chhattisgarh Kisan Congress, citing the water crisis that seems to have turned into a national problem. And the BCCI now are left reeling with few options, not to forget tangled up in the mire of legal issues surrounding the IPL.
The issue had come to light when a PIL was filed in the Bombay High Court asking for all matches in the IPL to be shifted out of Maharashtra—Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur—citing the drought-like situation in major parts of the state. Then a fortnight ago, the High Court had ordered shifting of all IPL matches scheduled in Maharashtra after April 30 to another state. The direction had come even as BCCI had given an assurance that IPL franchises of Mumbai and Pune had agreed to contribute Rs five crore to Chief Minister’s drought relief fund.
That prompted the MCAs to file a special leave petition to reverse the order. But on Wednesday, a bench led by Chief Justice T S Thakur said that the matches be shifted out of the state after it did not get convinced by the arguments regarding use of treated sewage water in stead of portable water in cricket grounds. The court also noted that it had not initially countered the contention in the PIL about use of 60 lakh litres of water for maintenance of the grounds.
During the hearing, senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and P Chidambaram, appearing for the state cricket bodies, had sought a stay on the Bombay High Court order. They maintained that potable water would not be used for any cricketing activity in stadiums in Mumbai and Pune and treated sewage water would be used. The lawyers claimed the stadiums would need 10,000 litres a day for six days and potable water will not be used.
But the bench remained unimpressed with the arguments and observed it would be better to shift the matches out rather than to create a situation where all kinds of regulations would be needed.
Elsewhere in Jaipur, hearing a petition challenging the conduct of three Mumbai Indians IPL matches in Jaipur, a HC bench comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and DC Somani asked the government to file a response by April 30.
While the state government sought more time to reply, the petitioner’s lawyer argued for an early response since the matches are scheduled for May 8th, 13th and 15th. The PIL was filed last week by city based journalist Mahesh Pareek, after the Mumbai Indians and BCCI chose Jaipur as the team’s home ground for holding the remainder of its matches after the Bombay HC moved IPL matches out of Maharasthra.
And a two judge bench of the Bilaspur High Court has asked all parties in the petition to return with detailed replies on May 4, when the petition will be delved into further. As per the IPL schedule, Raipur is set to host two matches, on May 20 and May 22.
Chandrashekhar Shukla, president of the Chhattisgarh Kisan Congress and the petitioner in the case said that he had filed the PIL, given the drought in the state. “In the petition, I have used several statements made my senior government officials and ministers when they are talking about the drought, as well as a report of the Central Water Resources Ministry which says that dams across the country, including those in Chhattisgarh are running dry. In the last session of the assembly, government representatives had also spoken about the drought, and that has also been submitted to the Bilaspur High Court. We have asked that in a situation as dire as this, how can IPL matches be held in Naya Raipur?,” Shukla said. Shukla told this paper that the parties in the PIL included the Chhattisgarh government, the Chief Secretary of the state government, secretary water resources department, Chhattisgarh Cricket Association, BCCI, IPL governing council, and the officer in charge of the international cricket stadium in Naya Raipur. “The Bilaspur High Court has asked for all the facts from all these concerned agencies. The next hearing in the case has now been set for May 4,” Shukla said.
(With inputs from ENS Jaipur/Raipur)