Wa­ter­ing IPL grounds in state crim­i­nal waste: HC

RAPPED Court asks BCCI to ideally shift matches out of drought-hit Ma­ha­rash­tra

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Aye­sha Arvind aye­sha.arvind@hin­dus­tan­times.com

MUM­BAI: With Ma­ha­rash­tra wit­ness­ing one of the worst droughts in its his­tory, the Bom­bay high court on Wed­nes­day termed as “crim­i­nal wastage” the use of wa­ter to main­tain cricket pitches for the up­com­ing sea­son of the In­dian Premier League (IPL) and sug­gested shift­ing matches out of the state. The court made the ob­ser­va­tion while hear­ing a pub­lic in­ter­est lit­i­ga­tion (PIL) filed by an NGO against hold­ing of IPL matches in the state, which is reel­ing un­der se­vere wa­ter crisis.

The gov­ern­ment has de­clared drought in 26,670 vil­lages across the state, of which 11,962 vil­lages are in the Vi­darbha re­gion and the rest spread across three re­gions – Marath­wada, Khan­desh and western Ma­ha­rash­tra. It ef­fec­tively means around 70% of the state is reel­ing un­der a se­vere drought. Of­fi­cial gov­ern­ment fig­ures re­veal that 3,228 farm­ers com­mit­ted sui­cide across the state last year. The wa­ter scarcity in some of these dis­tricts is so dire that it has led to law and or­der is­sues. In cer­tain ar­eas, the ad­min­is­tra­tion has even had to im­pose sec­tion 144 of the CrPC, which pro­hibits more than five peo­ple from as­sem­bling at one place.

The sit­u­a­tion in Mum­bai and its sur­round­ing ar­eas is no bet­ter. While Mum­bai­ites have been grap­pling with a 20% wa­ter cut, peo­ple liv­ing in Thane and Kalyan re­ceive wa­ter only once in two days.

“How can you [cricket as­so­ci­a­tions and BCCI] waste wa­ter like this? Peo­ple are more im­por­tant or your IPL matches? How can you be so care­less? Who wastes wa­ter like this? This is crim­i­nal wastage. You know what the con­di­tion is in Ma­ha­rash­tra,” a di­vi­sion bench headed by jus­tice VM Kanade and jus­tice MS Karnik said on Wed­nes­day.

Tak­ing a se­ri­ous view of the mat­ter, the bench added, “Ideally, you should shift the IPL matches to some other state where wa­ter is in abun­dance.”

The bench ob­served that it was the state’s duty to pre­serve and pri­ori­tise the us­age of wa­ter in times of crisis. “Only if wa­ter sup­ply to BCCI is cut, you will un­der­stand,” the court said, in a sting­ing crit­i­cism of the BCCI, which or­gan­ises the T20 tour­na­ment.

The ninth edi­tion of the cashrich, but con­tro­versy-rid­den T20 league is sched­uled to be held from April 9 to May 29 in dif­fer­ent venues across the coun­try. Ma­ha­rash­tra is slated to host 20 matches in Mum­bai, Nag­pur and Pune. The T20 league, with an Rs20,000 crore es­ti­mated brand value and boast­ing of Bol­ly­wood stars and ma­jor con­glom­er­ates as in­vestors, has been dogged by cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions for years.

The PIL by NGO Lok­satta Move­ment has urged the court to di­rect the au­thor­i­ties to change the venue of IPL matches that are sched­uled to be held in Ma­ha­rash­tra.

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