Anurag Thakur, BCCI’s Secretary, may have a point. He asked, after some matches after 30 April were ordered out of Mumbai and Pune, “How many swimming pools of 5 star hotels have been shut? Have people stopped watering their lawns?"
Of course, not all homes have lawns, neither do many apartment complexes in Mumbai or elsewhere. But the fact that a lawn is a water guzzler is known to all, just like the grass on the outfield of cricket venues. But, BCCI has shown utter lack of sensitivity.
It is headquartered in Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra, a state whose large chunks are reeling under acute water shortages. There isn’t enough for drinking, and yet it needed a PIL in Bombay High Court for BCCI to wake up to the issue.
“Send water” here apparently does not mean cart what was likely to be used in Mumbai’s stadium, but facilitate transport of the elixir of life. BCCI has the financial muscle to do something by way of its corporate social responsibility.
That CSR inclination ought to have come without a court case, much as the “willingness” of two franchises, Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants, to contribute Rs 5 crore each to the chief minister’s relief fund. From the narrative that has emerged, these entities did not even think of it before they found their heads on the chopping block.
Even then, the explanatory talk was about how the franchises would lose money. It must have been a shock that the emperors of the game had to be told where to get off. Mint, the financial daily had quoted a BCCI official a year ago: “Cricket will always be a recession-proof sport (in the country), simply because it is the single most important game in India”.
This time, they wanted to prove they were monsoon-proof too.
A year ago this month, Mint had reported, “2013-14, was not a great one for the economy”. But, “not the enterprise in charge of cricket”. BCCI had posted a profit of Rs 526 crore “proving how cricket was “slowdown-proof”, that BCCI was “an economic engine that chugs along smoothly, come rain or shine, almost independent of the performance of the Indian cricket team”.
Given this reality, Anurag Thakur asking whether lawns have ceased being watered, does not square well. It actually illustrates how a law maker – he is a member of parliament – knew what was happening, and what was happening was wrong, and yet had not asked for it to end earlier.
This attitude of using the last drop that can come via one’s tap, or sucked out of the ground, and never mind the consequences that would emerge later shows the myopic Indian approach. Jab tak milte rahega, tab tak lete rahenge. Uske baad? Dekha jayega (As long as it's available, it's there for the taking. Whatever happens is for later)
Even the city government did not know, till the BCCI itself told the Bombay High Court the source, where the daily tankers were coming from. But that is par for the course.
Long ago, BMC’s officials had conceded that water was being wastefully used in the city by bathing in bathtubs. They are illegal, and despite empowering statutes, the city government does not act for want of manpower. An official had told DNA, they require around 200 litres for a bath compared to 25 litres in a bucket. But they are“pretty common in residences in posh areas”.
Now that Anurag Thakur has raised it, it may make eminent sense to survey the lawns that the official residences of ministers and the municipal commissioner have in their palatial accommodations. Are they being watered? If so, from where does the water come? And especially since Mumbai has officially reduced water supply due to dried up reservoirs, what has happened to the swimming pools?
But yes, that official who pleaded inadequate manpower had a suggestion. “The citizen needs to be responsible. The BMC cannot do things beyond a limit.” So would you please turn off the tap when you are brushing, or shaving? Thin the flow in the kitchen sink? And avoid a shower and opt for a bucketful, as long as you get that bucketful?