The Rajasthan High Court on Thursday served notices to the state government and the BCCI, asking them to respond by Wednesday with their side of the arguments about holding IPL matches shifted out from Maharashtra, in Rajasthan.
The HC notices came in response to a PIL filed on Wednesday by city-based freelance journalist Mahesh Pareek, who sought the matches to be stayed till the petition was disposed off.
Hearing the petition Thursday morning, the HC asked why the state government and BCCI thought of conducting the matches in Jaipur, when the water situation in Rajasthan was worse than many states. The matter is scheduled to be heard next on April 27.
“According to the state and national water policy, cricket, which comes under leisure and entertainment, falls at the bottom end of priorities as far as public use of water is concerned,” the petitioner’s lawyer Prateek Kasliwal told The Indian Express.
The petition has argued that if the IPL matches, for the Mumbai Indians franchise, were shifted out of Maharashtra because of water scarcity, Rajasthan was not an appropriate venue since the state was suffering a water crisis as well.
IPL 10 out of India?
This is but only the latest in a series of setbacks that has added to the woes of BCCI’s logistical ordeal. The BCCI is already looking at taking the tournament out of India next year. Anurag Thakur, BCCI secretary, said today they might be left with little choice but to take the tournament overseas. It won’t be the first time the BCCI would go with that option, having already hosted a whole season of IPL 2 in South Africa and the first part of IPL 7 in the UAE.
There is trouble at other venues too. RTI activists Kunal Shukla and Abhishek Pratap Singh have filed a PIL in the Chhattisgarh High Court in Bilaspur demanding that the two IPL matches scheduled in the state capital of Raipur-the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh Stadium was picked by Delhi Daredevils as their secondary home-ground-be shifted out.
The issue again relates to water crisis in the state with the petition stating that 117 tehsils being drought-ridden.
“There was water scarcity in 70 wards of Raipur Municipal Corporation (RMC) alone so it would not be right to use the water for IPL matches,” lawyer Vimlesh Bajpayee was quoted as saying in PTI.
Kings pick Dharamsala
That’s not all either. While the PILs were being filed and acknowledged at different parts of the country, Kings XI Punjab announced via a press release that they had chosen Dharamshala as their second home-ground and that the hill-city will play host to their three games that were shifted out of Nagpur. But according to a Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) official, they aren’t even aware of this development.
“I don’t have any official intimation from BCCI. I’m affiliated to the BCCI, it has to come through BCCI. Once we get any intimation from the BCCI then only can we do anything,” HPCA secretary Vishal Marwaha said.
But it is the tourist season in Dharamshala with hordes of visitors set to descend upon the popular holiday destination, which will render the logistics of shifting matches this late in the day into an improbable task. A minimum of 250 hotel rooms are required whenever a city has to host an IPL match-taking into consideration the production crew and hospitality apart from the teams themselves-which could be managed in a bigger city but will be a harrowing proposition in Dharamshala.
The BCCI’s scheduling crisis started when 12 matches were moved out of Maharashtra on orders of the Bombay High Court and were rescheduled to be held at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur, which Mumbai Indians chose as their home ground, after reportedly being offered Kanpur and Raipur as the other possible venues. Then came the PIL in Rajasthan High Court, which brought the similarities in the water crises between Maharashtra and Rajasthan to the fore.
“…huge quantity (nearly 80 lakh liters) 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 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 MI 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.
The state government had only Tuesday ironed out differences between BCCI and the Lalit Modi-led Rajasthan cricket association. While the BCCI did not want RCA involvement in the matches, Modi had warned the cricket body against holding the matches without involving it as “it would be illegal”.