IPL row: Bombay HC asks if matches can be shifted out of Pune, orders forensic test of water
Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today asked the BCCI if it could consider shifting of the IPL matches out of Pune in view of the ongoing water crisis in the state.
The query came when a bench of Justice VM Kanade and Justice MS Karnik was hearing a public interest litigation by NGOs Loksatta Movement and Foundation for Democratic Reforms on the "misuse" of lakhs of litres of water for maintaining cricket pitches.
A total of 20 matches are to be played in Maharashtra. Nine matches are to be played in Pune, eight in Mumbai and three in Nagpur.
The HC also ordered for a forensic lab test of the water which was used by Wankhede stadium in the opening match of IPL-9. The BCCI had earlier informed the court that it will only use treated sewage water to maintain its pitches for seventeen matches to be played in Mumbai and Pune.
The High Court had rapped the BCCI and the Cricket Associations of Maharashtra over the heavy usage of water when the state is reeling under severe water crisis suggesting that IPL matches should be shifted elsewhere.
Parts of Maharashtra are already suffering from severe drought with more than 90 lakh farmers in Maharasthra adversely affected by the crisis.
“A forensic lab must confirm whether the water that was used for the opening match of the IPL tournament was potable or safe for drinking,” ordered Bombay high court on Tuesday.
Along with its directive to test the water used for the pitch at Wankhede, the HC also asked the Indian cricketing body if it was willing to shift IPL matches out of Pune.
The court further sought to know whether the cash-rich cricket board was willing to make a donation to the chief minister’s drought relief fund and what amount. The HC also sought to know if they have an option to consider donating lakhs of litres of non-potable-water to crisis hit areas in the state.
The court has directed to confirm the above orders of donation in writing by Wednesday.
Earlier, in a bid to ensure water is not wasted in drought-hit Maharashtra, BCCI told the High Court that only sewage treated water would be supplied to stadiums in Mumbai and Pune for maintaining pitches in IPL matches.
“In 17 matches of IPL in Mumbai and Pune we will use treated sewage water,” BCCI lawyer informed Bombay HC during hearing on wastage of water during IPL matches in the state.
The lawyer said that recycled sewage water will be sufficient for the board to maintain pitches and thus this will help in tackling water crisis without using potable water.
The PIL has been filed by an NGO named Loksatta Movement, which has questioned the need for holding IPL matches in Maharashtra as it would lead to a huge wastage of water when large parts of the state are reeling under severe water shortage.
The Bombay High Court, which allowed the debut match of the tournament to be played at the iconic Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai last week, had lambasted the BCCI for wasting water to prepare pitches for IPL tournament. It had also threatened to order that the remaining 19 matches in the state be relocated to states that have more water.
At that time, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis had made it clear that the state government will not provide potable water for IPL matches.
Maharashtra is facing acute shortage of water for the past two decades. Marathwada is one of the most water-deprived regions of state. Rivers, canals, ponds and nallas have dried up. The ongoing drought has evoked comparisons with the great drought of 1972.
Few days ago Maharshtra Chief Minister had said that, “it would not bother me” if the IPL is moved out of Maharashtra. Repeating that stand, the government told the court, that is has no objection if matches are cancelled for Maharashtra “even though there is a loss of revenue.”