Are People More Important or IPL Matches: Bombay High Court


On April 13, the Bombay High Court directed that some of the IPL matches should be shifted out of Maharashtra. This marks more than a measure of victory for the Loksatta team that had file the petition on April 4 challenging the use of water for these matches when the state faces a crippling drought.

"We give you (BCCI) 15 days to take steps to move out the matches to venues outside the state," said a bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice M S Karnik. The Bombay High Court on April 13 asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to shift all Indian Premier League (IPL) matches out of Maharashtra after April 30.

This means only six IPL matches will be played in the state, and 13, including the final, will go out. The HC passed the order to ensure that non-potable water is not wasted in maintaining grounds and pitches at stadiums.

The petition had been filed on April 4. The first match was on April 9. Sabrangindia had reported on the filing of the petition. "Are People More Important or IPL Matches:" the  Bombay High Court had asked on the first day of hearing, April 6.

Bombay HC suggests shifting Nine IPL Matches at Three Venues out of Maharashtra as the State reels under acute water shortage caused by a third consecutive year of drought

Severely criticising the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and other cricket associations in Maharashtra and Mumbai over water wastage when the state is reeling under a severe drought, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday, April 6 said ideally the Indian Premier League matches should be shifted elsewhere, where there is no water crisis. "Only if water supply to BCCI is cut, you will understand," the court observed.

The court also pulled up the state government stating that, ultimately it is the government's responsibility and duty to do something about the water wastage during the IPL games and impose some kind of restraint. It also asked the state government to spell out by Thursday, April 7 what steps it plans to take on the issue. Advocate General Rohit Deo has been directed to appear for the state government in the matter on Thursday (April 7). Sabrangindia had reported a filing of the public interest petition on April 4. A copy of the petition can be read here.

Loksatta Movement PIL against IPL matches in Maharashtra

The Loksatta movement had, on April 4 filed a petition challenging the wisdom of holding 20 matches at three venues of the IPL-9 2016 matches in Maharashtra when the state is reeling under drought and there are severe water shortages both in rural and urban areas.

Huge quantities (nearly 60 lakh litres) of water is proposed and ready to be willingly wasted by The Board of Control for Cricket in India, The Mumbai Cricket Association, The Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, the Vidarbha Cricket Association, all being the Respondent(s) Nos. 6 to 9 in the petition.These authorities are being asked to answer, through this petition, how they can justify maintaining the Cricket Pitches in the three venues nominated for Indian Premier League, 2016, in the State of Maharashtra, especially when the State is reeling through the worst kind of drought in a century and is facing acute shortage of water as the level of water in dams and lakes in the State has gone down.

The Court’s remarks today were sharp as reported by "How can you (cricket associations and BCCI) waste water like this. People are more important or your IPL matches? How can you be so careless? Who wastes water like this? This is criminal wastage. You know what the condition is in Maharashtra," a division bench headed by Justices V M Kanade and M S Karnik said, while hearing a PIL filed by NGO 'Loksatta Movement'.

The court also asked whether according to BCCI and the other cricket bodies, cricket matches are more important."Ideally, you should shift the IPL matches to some other state where water is in abundance," the court observed.

Responses have been sought from all other respondents, including the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Vidarbha Cricket Association, Maharashtra government and the civic bodies of Mumbai and Nagpur. The PIL has challenged the use of nearly 60 lakh litres of water to maintain pitches at three stadiums in the state which will hold IPL matches.

The court also asked the Mumbai Cricket Association how much water would be used in Wankhede stadium, to which MCA's advocate said they would be using over 40 lakh litres water for the seven IPL matches to be held there.To this, the court said it is a huge number.

The Petitioners, the Loksatta movement have requested that, pending hearing of the PIL, the court should grant an interim order restraining all the cricket associations in Maharashtra from using water to maintain the pitches.The high court said it will consider the interim relief sought by the petitioner, during the hearing on Thursday. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's advocate Trupti Puranik told the high court on Wednesday that they are supplying water to Wankhede stadium only for drinking purposes. Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA)'s advocate told the court that they are purchasing water to maintain the pitches. This water is non-portable and cannot be used for drinking purposes. He also said that the association will come out with some contingency plan to tackle the water crisis.

The advocate appearing for the petitioner, however, said several villages in Maharashtra do not even have water for sanitation, cooking and other purposes. This non-portable water could be of use in such villages.  The court also observed that water shortage is not just in Marathwada region, the situation is equally bad in Thane, adjoining Mumbai. The petitioner's lawyer then reportedly pointed out that from April 5 to 9, there will be absolutely no water supply in Thane. The court also noted that in some places in Maharashtra, prohibitory orders under section 144 has been imposed in the vicinity of water supply spots. Notably, authorities in Parbhani town and Latur in the parched Marathwada region of the state, which is experiencing an unprecedented water scarcity this summer, have imposed prohibitory orders near water supply spots in the town.

As reported by Sabrangindia on April 4, the petition filed by Loksatta also states that:

There is already a scarcity of drinking water and water for sanitation purposes and The State of Maharashtra, Through its Water Resources Department, The Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority,The Mumbai Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), The Nagpur Municipal Corporation, The Pune Municipal Corporation, being the Respondent Nos. 1 to 5 have not raised any objection to the proposed wastage thereby violating the Article 21 and 47 of the Constitution of India as also violating the National Water Policy and the State Water Policy.
The citizens movement, Loksatta has prayed for a re-location and alteration of its venues for the IPL 2016 and said that the games should be held outside Maharashtra. Further, the petitioner has held that that the state government and Maharashtra Water Regulatory Authority respectively (Respondent Nos. 1 and 2) should be specifically directed by the High Court to preserve the water proposed to be used by the Corporations and Cricket associations (Respondents No. 5 to 9) and this should be utilised for the purpose of domestic use for drinking, cooking, hygiene and sanitation needs including livestock, or agriculture, as may be deemed fit by the Respondent No. 2. Among the nine respondents apart from 1 and 2 are the corporations of Mumbai, Nagpur and Pune, and the cricket associations that include BCCI, Mumbai Cricket Association, Maharashtra Cricket Association and Vidharba Cricket Association.
The petition also prays that the High Court should direct all respondents to ‘scrupulously follow the provisions of the Sections 11 and 12 of the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority Act, 2005 before providing water to Respondent Nos. 5 to 9 for any of the purpose throughout the State of Maharashtra’. In the alternative, the petitioner has prayed for the scare quantity of water available to be used by respondents for the sole purposes Priority 4(e) / 4(d) of the State Water Policy List; and that the High Court should frame guidelines as regards the usage and allocation of water resources for the purpose of IPL and similar Priority 4(e) / 4(d) of the State Water Policy List activities..

Finally, the petition also prays that all the cricket bodies and associations should be restrained by the High Court from utilising the water for the purpose of preparing / maintaining the Cricket Pitches, by using the Municipal Water from any sources, including tankers.



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