On 13 April 2016, the Bombay High Court ordered the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to shift all the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches scheduled after April 30 in drought-hit Maharashtra out of the state. This would mean 13 of the 19 matches to be played in Maharashtra have to be moved to venues outside the state. According to India Today the IPL franchises may file a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court against the high court’s verdict.
“It will be better off that matches are held outside the state. We cannot ignore the plight of the (drought-hit) people. State government has to monitor whether what has been assured is being done,” the high court told BCCI, which organises the IPL.
Reacting to the high court’s verdict IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said that organising an event like the IPL is a difficult task and that the BCCI is ready to help the Maharashtra government in its effort to tackle water shortage. “Why wasn’t the issue raised when IPL preparations were going on. Several events take place despite water crisis. Shifting matches at this moment will be a difficult task. We will work on the strategy after we get the high court’s order in writing,” the Chairman told India Today TV.
“If matches are to be shifted, where will they be moved, how will they be moved, all these issues are involved. Nobody raised an issue about the 24 World Twenty20 matches that were held recently,” the Chairman added.
In a report by Rediff, the Mumbai and Pune franchises are willing to contribute Rs 5 crore each towards the chief minister’s drought relief fund. The BCCI said it will match the amount. The BCCI also said it would supply 40 lakh litres to Latur. BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur asks, “How many swimming pools of 5-star hotels have been shut? Have people stopped watering their lawns?”
In a report by NDTV, the BCCI had suggested that it would use treated sewage water to water the pitch – which needs around 15,000 litres of water each time. Various state cricket boards have pitched on treated sewage water to use in stadiums. The Karnataka State Cricket Association has already built a sewage treatment plant in the premises of the Chinnaswamy Stadium at a cost of Rs 85 lakh. The plant is expected to be commissioned this week.
The court further added that the water meant for cricket pitches should be diverted to drought-hit areas like Latur. BCCI’s counsel Rafiq Dada told the High Court that the cricket board is ready to supply over 60 lakh litres of non-potable water to drought-hit areas in Maharashtra free of cost. He said the water will be supplied in support with Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC), Mumbai Cricket Association and Maharashtra Cricket Association.
Dada said that over Rs 30 crore have been invested by the franchises for holding the matches in their respective home cities. He said during the T20 World Cup held recently, nine qualifying matches were held in Nagpur, but at that time nobody raised a hue and cry about water wastage.
In a special report by India Today, one IPL match in Maharashtra consumes 0.3 million litres of water. That comes to 6 million litres of water for 20 matches which further comes to only 0.0000038 per cent of water required for sugarcane growth. An India Today Television investigation has revealed that the real culprit for Maharashtra’s condition is the state’s policy that encourages production of water-guzzling sugarcane. Each kilogram of sugar requires 2,068 litres of water which translates to 2 million litres of water per tonne of sugar.
What’s more, some of the biggest sugar barons in Maharashtra are powerful Netas cutting across political lines, which essentially means that no one questions the sugar cane lobby.