The Bombay High Court on Tuesday asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) whether it was willing to contribute to the Chief Minister’s drought relief fund and was ready to shift the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches out of Pune.
A Division Bench of Justices V.M. Kanade and M.S. Karnik also asked the Board how many days it used 40 lakh litres of water and whether it was willing to supply water to villages facing scarcity.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation plea filed by the NGO, Loksatta Movement, pointing out that at a time when Maharashtra was reeling under the worst drought, 60 lakh litres of water were being wasted for maintaining cricket pitches to conduct IPL matches.
Senior counsel Rafiq Dada, appearing for the BCCI, said the Board had requested the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) to provide sewage water which, after treatment, could be used for 17 matches of IPL in Mumbai and Pune. Mr. Dada said Kings XI Punjab, a franchise of IPL, was willing to shift three of its matches out of Vidarbha to Mohali.
Senior advocate Vineet Naik, on behalf of the Maharashtra Cricket Association, said the association could get the water from the RWITC transported from Mumbai to Pune. The judges asked whether the RWITC would give an undertaking to provide the treated sewage water for the matches.
Acting Advocate-General Rohit Deo said they had initiated a preliminary inquiry into the source of water. Advocate Suresh Pakhle, representing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), said the water in borewells and wells in the city was non-potable. The court then asked whether the water could be treated and made potable.
The HC said a sample could be taken for chemical testing. The Bench said once the potability level of water was found, the court could consider giving a direction. Listing out water policy measures to a question, the AG said Maharashtra had a two-fold solution — long-term and short-term. The government had asked Marathwada farmers to use drip irrigation for sugar factories as it would reduce 50% of water consumption. The water policy was in place. The first priority was to use it for domestic, hygiene and sanitation purposes, and the second was agriculture.