In a blow to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and its affiliates in Maharashtra, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday suggested that the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) matches should be shifted out of the state, now facing unprecedented water crises.
“How can you waste water like this…are the people more important or your IPL matches? Only if the water supply to BCCI is cut, you will understand,” said a stern division bench of Justice V.M. Kanade and Justice M.S. Karnik.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by an NGO named Loksatta Movement, which has questioned the need for holding IPL matches in Maharashtra as it would lead to a huge wastage of water when large parts of the state are reeling under severe water shortage.
“How can you be so careless? Who wastes water like this? Ideally, you should shift out the IPL matches to some other state where water is in abundance,” the bench observed.
Pointing out that the condition in Maharashtra was known to the BCCI and other cricket associations, the court said ultimately it is the government’s responsibility to check water wastage and impose restrictions on its use.
It asked acting advocate-general Rohit Deo to remain in the court and directed the state government to inform what measures it planned to take in the matter, as the cricketing authorities prepare to launch IPL jamboree with fanfare from April 9.
Earlier, the court sought the replies of various respondents, including the state government, various cricketing associations in the state and the Mumbai and Nagpur civic corporations on the issue.
The petitioner NGO has claimed that more than six million litres of water would be utilised to maintain the cricket pitches at the three stadia in Maharashtra where IPL matches are scheduled to be held.
The lawyer of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) said it would use over four million litres of water for the seven IPL matches to be held at the Wankhede Stadium and they purchased non-potable water for this purpose.
To this, the NGO’s lawyer pointed out that many villages in Maharashtra don’t have water for sanitation, cooking or cleaning and this non-potable water could be of great use to the villagers.
The NGO sought an interim order restraining all cricket associations in the state from using water to maintain their pitches, pending the hearing of the PIL which the court agreed to consider on Thursday.
Around 20 IPL matches are scheduled in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur. All three cities are currently experiencing a water crisis with the summer just hotting up.
Another similar petition filed by activist journalist Ketan Tirodkar is likely to come up for hearing in the Bombay High Court before another bench on Thursday.