The Bombay high court on Thursday allowed the inaugural IPL match at Mumbai on April 9 but pulled up the Maharashtra government for providing “as much water as they want” to the Indian cricket board for maintaining playgrounds in the drought-hit state.
The court, hearing an NGO’s petition against holding matches of the forthcoming Indian Premier Legue in the state in view of the water crisis, also pulled up the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) saying, “…people are dying and you want to maintain pitches?”
Almost 70% of the state has been declared drought-hit, forcing the government to impose rationing and prohibitory orders following water rioting in many parts.
Three cities in Maharashtra -- Mumbai, Nagpur and Pune -- will host 20 matches of the T20 event organised by the BCCI from April 9 to May 29.
The first match will be held at the Wankhede stadium.
“So much disparity, here are people who can use as much water as they want and people in Thane get water once in 3 days,” a division bench of justices VM Kanade and MS Karnik said in response to acting attorney general Rohit Deo’s admission the government provides “just 22k litres potable water to the stadium every day”.
The court also directed the government to investigate from where the BCCI was getting the rest of the water if it was supplied only 22,000 litre water and asked for a statement by Tuesday on on whether the water supplied to stadiums was potable or non-potable.
The Maharashtra Cricket Association questioned the timing of the petition asking why it was filed 4 days before the first match “when (the) schedule was declared long ago”.
The petitioner had urged the court to issue an interim order restraining all cricket associations in Maharashtra from using water to maintain pitches.
The HC had on Wednesday suggested that the upcoming IPL matches be shifted out of the state, now facing an unprecedented water crises.
The petitioner NGO has claimed that more than six million litres of water would be utilised to maintain the cricket pitches at the three stadia in Maharashtra where IPL matches are scheduled to be held.
The lawyer of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) said it would use over four million litres of water for the seven IPL matches to be held at the Wankhede Stadium and they purchased non-potable water for this purpose.
To this, the NGO’s lawyer pointed out that many villages in Maharashtra don’t have water for sanitation, cooking or cleaning and this non-potable water could be of great use to the villagers.
The NGO sought an interim order restraining all cricket associations in the state from using water to maintain their pitches, pending the hearing of the PIL which the court agreed to consider on Thursday.
Around 20 IPL matches are scheduled in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur. All three cities are currently experiencing a water crisis with the summer just hotting up.