3 Days Be­fore IPL, HC Wants Ma­ha­rash­tra ‘Cricket Dry’

Court sug­gests shift­ing tour­na­ment matches out of state, crit­i­cises ‘crim­i­nal wastage’ of wa­ter for cricket matches

The Economic Times - - Front Page -

Ravi Teja Sharma, Gau­rav La­gathe & Maulik Vyas

New Delhi | Mum­bai: Just three days be­fore the first match of the ninth edi­tion of In­dian Premier League kicks off in Mum­bai, the Bom­bay High Court has sug­gested that the drought-hit state of Ma­ha­rash­tra go ‘cricket dry’. The court came down heav­ily on the Board of Con­trol for Cricket in In­dia (BCCI) and the cricket as­so­ci­a­tions of Ma­ha­rash­tra and Mum­bai on Wed­nes­day over the use of wa­ter for cricket grounds dur­ing IPL games at a time the state is reel­ing un­der se­vere short­age of wa­ter. “Only if wa­ter sup­ply to BCCI is cut will you un­der­stand,” it ob­served.

The in­au­gu­ral game of IPL-9 will be played on April 9 at the Wankhede Sta­dium be­tween Mum­bai In­di­ans and first-timers Ris­ing Pune Su­per­giants, led by Ma­hen­dra Singh Dhoni. Ma­ha­rash­tra would be play­ing host to 20 out of the 60 IPL matches — eight in Mum­bai, nine in Pune and three in Nag­pur. The court has sug­gested shift­ing all these games out of the state. “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,” a divi­sion bench hea- ded by Jus­tices VM Kanade and MS Karnik said while hear­ing a pub­lic in­ter­est lit­i­ga­tion filed by Lok­satta Move­ment, a non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The court also asked the state gov­ern­ment to spell out on Thurs­day the mea­sures it is plan­ning to tackle wa­ter short­age, adding that ul­ti­mately it is the gov­ern­ment’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to curb wa­ter wastage.

In its ar­gu­ments, the Ma­ha­rash­tra Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion (MCA) said the wa­ter it uses is not potable. Ac­cord­ing to the PIL, each ground re­quires 60-70 lakh litres of wa­ter and that Ma­ha­rash­tra, cur­rently fac­ing 10-53% wa­ter cuts in many ar­eas, can’t af­ford such ‘wastage’.

Le­gal ex­perts said the is­sue doesn’t fall un­der the court’s purview as it is more a pol­icy mat­ter

IPL Chair­man Ra­jiv Shukla had said on Tues­day that no matches will be shifted out of Ma­ha­rash­tra. “If the wa­ter needed to ir­ri­gate two-three grounds were to solve the prob­lem of Ma­ha­rash­tra’s farm­ers, that would be an­other thing. I don’t think this would serve any pur­pose. Sport is a dif­fer­ent thing, it needs lit­tle wa­ter. Farm­ers need huge amount of wa­ter,” he said.

While the court will hear the mat­ter on Thurs­day, le­gal ex­perts said the is­sue doesn’t fall un­der the court’s purview as it is more a pol­icy mat­ter. “This is a mat­ter of state pol­icy rather than a mat­ter of law. The court may make cer­tain ob­ser­va­tions in the pub­lic in­ter­est but it is for the state gov­ern­ment to take the fi­nal call while bal­anc­ing var­i­ous in­ter­ests and pri­or­i­ties,” said lawyer Nan­dan Ka­math, who runs a bou­tique sports and in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty law prac­tice in Ben­galuru.

If the matches were to be shifted out of Ma­ha­rash­tra, it will mean a sub­stan­tial mone­tary loss to the Mum­bai and Pune teams, es­pe­cially in terms of tick­et­ing rev­enue. Some other teams in the league, too, will have to re­jig their sched­ules. “Some spon­sors have tied up with us be­cause we are play­ing in Pune and they have a big mar­ket in the city and Ma­ha­rash­tra in general,” Raghu Iyer, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Ris­ing Pune Su­per­giants, told ET. He also pointed out that if the Pune team moves to an­other city for its games, it will lose home sup­port. The sta­dium in Pune has 35,000 seats with cor­po­rate boxes. The team is cur­rently set­ting up more hos­pi­tal­ity seats to shore up rev­enues.

“If the teams are moved to new home grounds, they will also get very lit­tle time to ad­just to the new pitches there,” said Basab­datta Chowd­hury, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of me­dia agency Star­com Me­di­aVest. “Tick­et­ing rev­enues will also be im­pacted and it will be a lo­gis­ti­cal night­mare for the teams, es­pe­cially be­cause there is so lit­tle time left,” she said.

The Mum­bai team is likely to lose big on tick­et­ing rev­enues as it has the largest num­ber of cor­po­rate boxes among all IPL sta­di­ums. Ac­cord­ing to me­dia sources, the team earns around .₹ 2 crore per match from ticket sales.

If the matches were to be shifted out of Ma­ha­rash­tra, it will mean a sub­stan­tial mone­tary loss to the Mum­bai and Pune teams

IN DEEP WA­TER: Ex­perts say it is for the state to take fi­nal call on matches while bal­anc­ing in­ter­ests & pri­or­i­ties

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