Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed that all Indian Premier League (IPL) matches scheduled after April 30 be shifted out of Maharashtra in view of the drought-like situation in the state.
A division bench of Justice V.M. Kanade and Justice M.S. Karnik said, “Several people are dying because of water scarcity in the state. This court cannot ignore the plight of such people and so directed that the matches be shifted outside Maharashtra.”
When senior counsel Rafique Dada had informed the court that, as per the court's instructions, the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) had also given an undertaking that only treated sewage water would be used to maintain pitches for IPL matches, the petitioner's lawyer D.H. Mehta objected to this and said that using treated sewage water could be unhealthy and it can even effect the health of players.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by Hyderabad-based NGOs Loksatta Movement and Foundation of Democratic Reforms challenging the use of huge amounts of water to maintain pitches for IPL matches when the state was reeling under acute water shortage.
After hearing arguments, the petitioners, as well as interveners, who opposed the playing of IPL matches in Maharashtra at least this year, the bench observed that it was expected that the BCCI and organisers of IPL matches would come forward on their own and shift the matches out of Maharashtra to save water, however, unfortunately, nothing had been done.
“The court has now no other option, but to direct BCCI to transfer matches out of Maharashtra,” observed the bench. The judges said that several districts in Maharashtra were not even getting water for sanitation and other purposes and that the non-potable water being used by the stadiums to maintain pitches could be of use in such districts.
Before disposing of the petition, the bench also said that it would continue monitoring the issue of implementation of water policy by the state government in other petitions. “The situation in Marathwada is very acute with the people there not getting a single drop of water for many days. All dams and rivers have gone dry and water had to be supplied via train to Latur,” the court noted.
The bench was of the opinion that if the IPL matches are shifted outside Maharashtra at the most the BCCI and IPL franchises would suffer financial loss. However, considering the drought situation in the state it would be better if the matches are held outside Maharashtra.