Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) President Sharad Pawar has come up with a plan that can potentially help solve the problem of Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium hosting the home games of the Mumbai Indians franchise without depleting the state's water resources.
Pawar has requested the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) to help provide water to Wankhede Stadium from its Sewage Treatment Plant at the Mahalaxmi Race Course. With the racing season about to end, the RWITC, which uses water from this plant to maintain its racetrack has agreed, according to a report in The Times of India.
"We have tied-up with Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) to procure treated sewage water for the IPL matches to be played in Pune and Mumbai," Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) counsel Rafiq Dada submitted.
In 17 matches of IPL in Mumbai and Pune we will use recycled water and tankers will not be used, BCCI lawyer informed the court on Tuesday, reported ANI News.
Meanwhile, the BCCI is also said to be considering shifting a few IPL matches out of Maharashtra. According to CNN-IBN, BCCI is ready to move five games, including the Kings XI Punjab ones which were scheduled to be held at Nagpur. Kanpur, Indore, Ranchi are being considered as alternative venues, CNN IBN quotes sources as saying.
The furore over Maharashtra hosting Indian Premier League (IPL) matches in times of acute drought has been on the rise even before the tournament began on 9 March.
The state, which had two IPL teams (Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants), in addition to hosting three matches for Mohali-based Kings XI Punjab at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur and two play-off games, is going through a acute water shortage.
Hosting a match in these times of drought will results in lakhs of litres of water being used prepare the cricket grounds and was viewed by many as criminal waste with BCCI and IPL facing heavy criticism.
With the Bombay High Court coming down strongly on BCCI’s handling of the situation and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis joining in the chorus, the cry for shifting IPL out of Maharashtra was gaining momentum.
The judges had asked the government and the municipal corporation to file separate affidavits by today, stating whether the water supplied to stadiums during the IPL matches was potable or non-potable.
The judges also asked both the authorities to inform whether they had formulated any policy for supply of potable and non-potable water to Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan and other cities in Maharashtra.
The bench had sought to know from the state and the civic body whether any contingency plans had been drawn up in case of further scarcity of water due to delayed monsoon this year.
It had asked the authorities to spell out in their affidavits whether they had made any inquiries about the source of water supplied to the stadiums through tankers.
The bench had also asked the authorities to state whether they had imposed any restraint on use of water in marriages and receptions during April-May 2016 as the state was facing acute water scarcity.
"I am thankful to the RWITC for agreeing to help us out in this time of crisis," Pawar was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
Once this deal comes through, Wankhede will use recycled water from the sewage plant to prepare the ground, thereby solving the problem of wasting water during the state's drought crisis.
Kings XI Punjab co-owner Ness Wadia said on Monday that the franchise is "very seriously considering" shifting its three IPL matches from drought-hit Maharashtra to some other venue.
"We are considering it on human grounds and considering it very seriously. We are considering it internally," Wadia told 'Times Now' on the crisis that has created acute water shortage in the rural areas of drought-hit Maharashtra.
When asked if there have been any advice, Wadia said: "At the end of the day, we are going to listen to ourselves. What we can do as a franchise as we are all Indians. It's not good that people don't have water."
A Mumbai-based NGO had petitioned the Bombay HC challenging the use of over 60 lakh litres of water to maintain pitches and sought shifting of IPL matches out of the state given the second successive drought it is experiencing. Altogether 20 matches will be played in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur and all these cities are facing grim water crisis, said the petition.
The court had suggested for the IPL matches to be shifted to a state where water is in abundance and had asked "is your cricket match more important than people". The court was informed by BCCI that they purchase water to maintain the grounds and it is non-potable and cannot be used for drinking purposes.