While most of the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches will have to be moved out of Maharashtra next month to save on water used for the grounds, there are more than 200 clubs and gymkhanas in the city that are still being supplied with at least two million to four million litres of potable water every day.
After the recent controversy that broke out over the use of water to maintain pitches during the IPL, questions are being raised over the supply of potable water to clubs and gymkhanas in the city, especially when the water situation in the city is deteriorating. While residential users have been complaining over the shortage of water and the civic body, too, has identified 130 such pockets in the city, there are various clubs/gymkhanas in the city that are still being supplied the same amount of water as Wankhede stadium. These include sports clubs, recreation clubs and gymkhanas.
Even after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) imposed a 50% cut in water supply for commercial users in August, each club is supplied an average of 10,000-20,000 litres of potable water every day. The civic body has no mechanism in place to find out how the water supplied to clubs/gymkhanas is used by them. It has also not asked the clubs to set up a rainwater harvesting system, even though some of the clubs have been built on large plots.
The clubs are paying around Rs5 for 100 litres (branded bottled water is sold around Rs20 per litre) as the civic body charges Rs46.65 per 1,000 litres for commercial users and Rs4.67 per 1,000 litres for household users.
There are about 15 odd clubs/gymkhanas that are on municipal plots and have been leased out to private entities by the BMC’s estate department, of which eight were given under the controversial open spaces policy’s caretaker basis. The Matoshree Club at Jogeshwari (East) is supplied around seven lakh litres, Prabodhan Kridabhavan in Goregaon (West) is supplied around eight lakh litres, whereas MIG club at Bandra (East) is supplied 16 lakh litres of water every month. Cricket is the main sport played at MIG club and Prabodhan Kridabhavan, thus both need water to maintain cricket pitches throughout the year. While civic officials have claimed potable water is not supplied for the clubs’ swimming pools.
Surendra Srivastava, national president of NGO Loksatta movement, who filed a public interest litigation that got the IPL out of Maharashtra, said, “Water should first be used for human consumption rather than for recreation purposes. The civic body should cut down on the water supplied to various clubs/gymkhanas, and distribute it in areas in the city facing severe water shortage such as Bhiwandi, Navi Mumbai and Thane. The government is failing to supply water where it is needed.”
A civic official, on condition of anonymity, said, “We supply 45 litres of water per person per day to clubs and gymkhanas. The quantity of water is calculated on the basis of members and tables in the restaurants/cafeterias of the clubs. We supply potable water to them, but cannot control and check where this water is being used — whether to water lawns or wash floors.”
Ashok Tawadia, chief engineer of the hydraulic department, said: “The water supply to all commercial users is cut by 50%. We supply water as per the approved plans. The officers design the water connection of a particular structure depending on the area before supplying water.”
Regarding asking the clubs to adopt water conservation methods, he said: “The building proposal department lays down conditions of rainwater harvesting before giving permissions, but in case of old clubs there is no compulsion. However, we are helping clubs that ask us for ways to conserve water.”
Some clubs said they are taking measures to save water. Pranav Trasy, general secretary, MIG club, said, “Since last September, when the water cut was announced, we have been using coco peat powder on the cricket pitches so that they retain moisture and do not need as much potable water. We have also been watering the ground once a week instead of twice a week for the past month. The water that the civic body supplies is used for potable purposes because there is a restaurant in our club as well.”