It's official. No IPL matches in Maharashtra in May

The court directed that all matches post April 30, including the finals, be shifted; also pulled up the state in the matter

In a major blow to the cricket board and the IPL tournament, the Bombay High Court yesterday ordered that all matches post April 30 be shifted out of Maharashtra to avoid undue wastage of water. This will mean that Mumbai will no longer host the finals on May 29.

The BCCI said it would source recycled sewage water for the IPL matches, but the court said this water should be used for drought relief instead. Representation pic/Atul Kamble

“Merely shifting the IPL matches will not solve the problem, but this could be the beginning. The water that was supposed to be used by the IPL can be transferred to drought-affected areas,” said Justice VM Kanade and Justice MS Karnik.

On Tuesday, the court had asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) whether it would contribute money and water for drought-relief efforts in the state, and in yesterday’s hearing, the cricket board agreed to do so.

BCCI senior counsel Rafiq Dada told the court, “We are ready to deposit R5 crore in the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, and are also ready to supply the same amount of water already used for IPL to the drought-hit areas at our expense. We have also submitted an undertaking to the bench from the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) that it will supply water from its sewage treatment plant for matches in Pune and Mumbai. The stadium in Nagpur has a well which is used to supply water for the pitch.”

But the petioner, Loksatta Foundation, argued that this would not be enough. “They are giving money to the CM’s fund but money can’t be a substitute for water; the matches have to be stopped,” said advocates Arshil Shah and Ankita Verma, adding that in the past, matches have even been shifted to South Africa due to problems in India.

The bench was also of the same opinion and, as a result, only six more matches will be held in the state, while the remaining 13 will be moved out. Apart from the final match, this ruling will also mean that the Eliminator (May 25) and Qualifier II (May 27) will no longer be held in Pune.

The court substantiated their stand of shifting the matches with several judgements and said, “We had given enough chances to BCCI to think of a shift, but only one team -- Kings XI came up with the shifting solution. Now we are compelled to pass a judgement to shift the matches out of the state.”

The bench also pulled up the state for passing the buck on the matter. “Though the state is in favour of a shift of IPL matches, they are passing the buck on BMC, saying that it is their responsibility to keep a tab on water usage. But the state has a major role to play; it can’t be a mute spectator to the events happening,” observed Justice Kanade.

The state Advocate General Rohit Deo said, “Though it is claimed by several people that the state will lose around R100 crore revenue due to the shift, we only get R1.5 crore per match. We are not in favour of the IPL, and if it’s wasting potable water then we are completely against it.”

Senior counsel, Janak Dwarkadas, who appeared for the team Rising Pune Supergiants, said, “We have got the team only for two years after two teams were cancelled by the Lodha committee. We have invested money and have expectations of returns. If the matches are shifted, not only will we face commercial loss but even branding and merchandising will be affected. Also, a team has good support if its matches are held on home ground.”

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