The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to shift the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches scheduled to be played after April 30 outside the State of Maharashtra.
A Division Bench of Justice V.M. Kanade and Justice M.S. Karnik has granted the BCCI, Mumbai Cricket Association, Maharashtra Cricket Association and Vidarbha Cricket Association 15 days to make all arrangements to shift the matches.
The court started hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) plea on April 7 and passed an order on April 13, directing 13 matches scheduled after April 30 to be moved out of the league. Four of those were to be played at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, six in the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune and three in the Vidarbha Cricket Stadium.
The court said, “There is a drought situation in the State, there is not a drop of water available, all dams are drying” and asked “whether the State can turn a blind eye to the scarcity of water.”
Pointing out that “people continue to be without water in Latur” and that “even ground water is not available,” it said, even cities around Mumbai like Thane, Kalyan and Pune are reeling under severe scarcity of water and “therefore the court cannot act as mere spectator.”
The Bench observed, “Shifting of IPL matches alone won’t solve the problem, but it can be a beginning so that water used for pitches can be diverted to affected areas.”
In its order, the court criticised the Maharashtra government. “On the one hand the State has filed an affidavit that it has no objection if the matches are shifted outside, on the other hand it acts as a mute spectator and does not even question the cricket associations.”
The PIL plea by NGO Loksatta Movement contended that water was being wasted on cricket pitches.
The court also said, “By the stand of the acting Advocate General, it is clear that the State is trying to pass the buck and now blaming the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation by relying on amendments in the Constitution. It cannot be forgotten that ultimately the responsibility of water supply is of the State.” It also did not spare the cash-rich cricket bodies.
“We expected the cricket associations on their own to come forward and shift all the venues outside the State, but no such decision was taken.”