Watering IPL grounds in state criminal waste: HC
RAPPED Court asks BCCI to ideally shift matches out of drought-hit Maharashtra
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.