The BCCI and cricket associations on Wednesday came under severe criticism from the Bombay High Court which said that in view of the grim water situation in Maharashtra due to drought it would be better to shift the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches outside the state.
Hearing a petition filed by Loksatta Movement which challenged the use of 60 lakh litres of water to maintain pitches at three stadiums where IPL matches would be held from 9 April, a division bench headed by Justice V M Kanade said it was the state government's responsibility to impose restraint on use of water during a drought.
The High Court's concern may not be unfounded. Sample these statistics — the MCA's lawyer said that they would be using over 40 lakh litres of water for the 7 IPL matches to be held at the Wankhede stadium. According to the Bureau of Indian Standards, the average demand for water per person per day is 135 litres, as per a report in The Hindu. This would mean that the amount of water used for the stadium in those seven days could fulfil the daily requirement for 29,629 people.
Hearing petition of Loksatta Movement, Justice Kanade hit out at the Cricket Board for holding IPL matches in the state reeling under drought and observed, "only if water supply to BCCI is cut, you will understand."
Deferring the matter until Thursday, the bench asked the State Government to declare its stand on what steps it had planned to take on the issue.
The bench asked BCCI and the cricket associations, "How can you waste water like this....Are people 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 (about drought)."
"Ideally, you should shift the IPL matches to some other state where water is in abundance," the court observed.
The High Court, while hearing this petition, had on Tuesday sought responses from the respondents including Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Vidarbha Cricket Association, Maharashtra government and the civic bodies of Mumbai and Nagpur.
Notably, IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla had on Tuesday ruled out shifting the matches out of Maharashtra on account of the drought and water scarcity.
Meanwhile, the petitioner urged that until the PIL is decided, interim relief may be granted to restrain all the the cricket associations in Maharashtra from using water to maintain the pitches.
This is not the first time that the Bombay High Court has questioned priorities in the usage of water. Last year, the court had questioned the release of water for a 'shahi snan' at the Kumbh Mela in Nasik. The court said that the release of the water 'when the state is reeling under a drought' as illegal, as per a report in The Times of India.
With the hearing of the IPL case to held on Thursday, all eyes will on the High Court to see if it passes any order on holding the matches in Maharashtra, with the tournament set to kick off this weekend.
Do you agree with the Bombay HC that drought-struck Maharashtra can't afford to waste water on IPL?
— Firstpost (@firstpost) April 6, 2016
With inputs from PTI