The state government on Tuesday told the Bombay high court that the drought in Maharashtra and the acute water shortage arising from it were due to the “wrath of the rain gods”. Acting advocate general Rohit Deo, appearing on behalf of the government, said that while the state government was not “insensitive” to the current situation and was trying to transport water by trains and tankers to affected areas, it could only do as much against the “vagaries of nature”.
Submitting an affidavit on behalf of the state, Deo said the government has come up with a water management policy that includes both short-term and long-term measures. He said the government is already using the railways to transport potable water to Latur district, and that in the coming days, it will also send 50 wagons with 50 lakh litres of water to other parts of the state. The government, he said, will ensure that each household in the drought-affected areas gets 150 litres of water a day.
However, when the court asked whether it had also come up with a plan to address the water problem posed by hosting IPL matches, Deo said water management was the BMC’s prerogative entirely and that the state could intervene only in cases of “extreme emergency”.
He, said, however, that considering the “current emergency situation”, the government had directed the BMC ascertain the source of the water used at Wankhede Stadium for the opening match of the IPL. Deo said a preliminary inquiry had revealed that only non-potable water had been used.
A bench led by Justice V M Kanade said, “The state wants to shift the blame on the BMC and the BMC in turn says it is the state’s responsibility. The state must get a forensic lab to ascertain whether the water that was used for the first match was potable or not.”
Deo said the government had “no particular infinity” towards the IPL and would ensure that not even a litre of potable water was used for the tournament.
In its affidavit, the government said it was “not averse to shifting the IPL matches out of Maharashtra” and that it stood “unflinching [on this] despite the consequent loss of revenue”.
However, the bench took note of the state’s use of the word ‘despite’ in its statement, saying that even now the state seemed “more concerned about revenue than about its people”.