Mumbai: Rapping the BCCI and cricket associations in Maharashtra and Mumbai over water wastage when the state is reeling under severe drought, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday said ideally Indian Premier League(IPL) matches should be shifted elsewhere, where there is no water crisis.
"Only if water supply to BCCI is cut, you will understand," the court observed.
The court also told the state that ultimately it is the government's responsibility and duty to do something about this (water wastage) and impose some kind of restraint.
It also asked the state government to spell out on Thursday what steps it plans to take on the issue.
How can you (cricket associations and BCCI) waste water like this? People are more important or your IPL matches? How can you be so careless? Who wastes water like this? This is criminal wastage. You know what the condition is in Maharashtra," a division bench headed by Justices VM Kanade and MS Karnik said, while hearing a PIL filed by NGO 'Loksatta Movement'.
The court also asked whether according to BCCI and the other cricket bodies, cricket matches are more important.
"Ideally, you should shift the IPL matches to some other state where water is in abundance," the court observed.
The high court, while posting the PIL for hearing, had sought responses from all other respondents, including the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Vidarbha Cricket Association, Maharashtra government and the civic bodies of Mumbai and Nagpur.
The PIL has challenged the use of nearly 60 lakh litres of water to maintain pitches at three stadiums in the state which will hold IPL matches.
The court on Wednesday asked the Mumbai Cricket Association how much water would be used in Wankhede stadium, to which MCA's advocate said they would be using over 40 lakh litres water for the seven IPL matches to be held there.
To this, the court said it is a huge number. The petitioner then said that pending hearing of the PIL, the court should grant an interim order restraining all the cricket associations in Maharashtra from using water to maintain the pitches.
The high court said it will consider the interim relief sought by the petitioner, during the hearing on Thursday. The court also asked state acting Advocate General Rohit Deo to appear for the state government in the matter on Thursday.
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's advocate Trupti Puranik told the high court that they are supplying water to Wankhede stadium only for drinking purposes.
MCA's advocate told the court that they are purchasing water to maintain the pitches. This water is non-portable and cannot be used for drinking purposes. He also said that the association will come out with some contingency plan to tackle the water crisis.
The advocate appearing for the petitioner, however, said several villages in Maharashtra do not even have water for sanitation, cooking and other purposes. This non-portable water could be of use in such villages.
The court also observed that water shortage is not just in Marathwada region, the situation is equally bad in Thane, adjoining Mumbai.
The petitioner's lawyer then pointed out that from April 5 to 9, there will be absolutely no water supply in Thane.
The court also noted that in some places in Maharashtra, prohibitory orders, under section 144 has been imposed in the vicinity of water supply spots.
Notably, authorities in Parbhani town and Latur in the parched Marathwada region of the state, which is experiencing an unprecedented water scarcity this summer, have imposed prohibitory orders near water supply spots in the town.