PIL against IPL: Preserving water bigger priority than cricket, Bombay HC tells MCA

The Mumbai Cricket Association also asked the HC for some time to respond to a PIL asking for matches to be shifted out the state due to water scarcity

The Bombay High Court, while hearing a petition against hosting IPL matches in Maharashtra, said that preserving water should be a bigger priority than cricket, considering the current drought conditions. The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) in turn told the bench that tickets had already been sold.

Also Read: IPL chief brushes aside Maharashtra water crisis, ties to go ahead as scheduled

Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium is slated to host eight IPL matches, including the final on May 29. File pic
Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium is slated to host eight IPL matches, including the final on May 29. File pic

“Definitely, the state water policy is a priority and the priorities set out in the state water policy need to be adhered to. One should think of using recycled water for gardening and other purposes,” observed Justice VM Kanade, who was hearing the matter along with Justice MS Karnik.

The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by the Loksatta Movement, which stated that it would cost the state 60 lakh litres of water just to tend to the cricket pitches. The cash-rich IPL tournament begins on Friday, and around 20 matches are slated to be played in Maharashtra, in Mumbai, Nagpur and Pune.

Appearing for the petitioner, advocates Arshil Shah and Ankita Verma told the court, “Around 60 lakh litres of water are likely to be used during the IPL season by the state which will be carrying out 20 matches. Three venues have been chosen — Wankhede Stadium and stadiums in Nagpur and Pune.”

Read Story: Shift IPL matches out of Maharashtra due to drought: BJP

“During the Kumbh Mela in Nashik, the High Court had passed a judgment to stop water for Shahi Snan, saying that it infringes Article 21 of the Constitution of India (protection of life and personal liberty), as water was scarce due to the drought in the state. As per the policy, water should be first given for domestic use then industrial, agricultural, environment and others,” said Shah, adding that cricket matches will fall in the last category.

The MCA counsel pointed out that tickets had already been sold and requested for more time to respond as he had got the copy of the petition on Monday evening and needed to study and discuss it. Mumbai alone will host eight matches that are likely to be played on April 9, 16, 20, 28, and May 8, 13, 15 and 29.

The petitioner’s lawyers told the court that selling tickets is not a big issue, but water scarcity is. They stated that there was a deficit of 23 per cent in the rainfall last year and water reservoirs were witnessing a five-year low due to the shortfall. Shah pointed out that some places in Marathwada were getting water only once in 20 days, and Kalyan and Thane were getting water thrice a week. In such conditions, wasting water for cricket could create further problems for the future months.

The petitioner also claimed that the respondents — including the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and MCA — have the rights to shift the matches out of the state. The bench held the matter for today.

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