CHENNAI/MUMBAI/BENGALURU:The Indian Premier League (IPL) on Wednesday paid the price for its gaiety amidst the grim drought in much of Maharashtra, with the Bombay High Court ordering the cricket carnival to remove itself from the State.
Having already pointed out the incongruity of the jamboree while people in Latur make do with Sahelian rationing of water, judges V M Kanade and
M S Karnik said all IPL matches scheduled to be played in Maharashtra beyond April 30 would have to move to another State — presumably one without such a stark contrast.
The order leaves the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) 18 days to arrange new venues for 13 matches, including the final originally scheduled to be played in Mumbai on May 29. The order came on a public interest litigation filed by the NGO Loksatta Movement, which challenged the use of over 60 lakh litres of water for ground management despite the drought in the State.
No number of submissions by the BCCI cut any ice with the judges, including an offer by the two affected IPL franchises, Mumbai and Pune, to pledge Rs 5 crore each to the Maharashtra CM’s Relief Fund. Nor did an assurance by BCCI that it would source treated sewage water for its pitches from the Royal Western Indian Turf Club Mumbai race course and ship some of it to Latur for sanitation needs there.
The judges acknowledged that their order was not a solution to the drought itself but a device to convey the urgency of the issue to the powers that be.
“We agree that merely shifting IPL matches out of the State will not be a solution but this can be a beginning to address the drought situation in Maharashtra. Several people are dying because of water scarcity in the State. This court cannot ignore the plight of such people,” said the bench of two judges.
While the BCCI and its two Maharashtra franchisees have their task cut out to find new venues at short notice, the Bombay High Court order opens up the possibility of copycat petitions being filed against the IPL in other states. The High Court of Karnataka is already hearing such a petition filed by a priest-cum-green activist.
On Wednesday, the Karnataka High Court directed the chairman of the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Board to ensure there is no wastage of water at the K M Chinnaswamy Stadium for the IPL matches in the city.
The Karnataka State Cricket Association scurried to explain that it is setting up a sewage treatment plant of its own to avoid a clash of aesthetics with the State’s drought.
As desired by the Bombay judges, the IPL-drought debate has served to impart some urgency to the government’s measures to tackle water scarcity in drought-hit states. In New Delhi, Union cabinet secretary P K Sinha called an emergency meeting to discuss steps such as renting private bore wells to harvest water and pipe it to distressed localities.
With the cruelest month of May up ahead, states, particularly in the south, began to gear up for the annual phenomenon of heat wave fatalities, with Telangana reporting 75 already, nine in just the last two days. Temperatures began to really sizzle in the south, with Odisha still smarting from its record of 45.8 degrees C and Telangana’s coal belt recording mercury levels in the mid-forties. Even once-balmy Bengaluru sweltered in 40.8 degrees C. In Kerala too, readings were three to four degrees above normal.
Dog days ahead
North and central India are expected to witness a rise in maximum temperatures in the next two-three days with heat wave like conditions in parts of Maharashtra, Odisha and Bengal.