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Drought : HC raps BCCI, suggests shifting of IPL out of Maha

The BCCI and cricket associations today came under severe criticism from the Bombay High Court which said in view of the grim water crunch in Maharashtra due to drought it would be better to shift the Indian Premier League matches outside the state.

Hearing a petition filed by Loksatta Movement which challenged use of 60 lakh litres of water to maintain pitches at three stadiums where IPL matches would be held from April 9, a division bench headed by Justice V M Kanade said it was the state government’s responsibility to impose restraint on use of water during drought.

In a related development, a different bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka declined to hear a similar petition filed by activist Ketan Tirodkar against water use in IPL matches, asking the petitioner to move an appropriate bench.

Later, Tirodkar told reporters outside the court that he would move the court of Chief Justice Waghela tomorrow.

Hearing petition of Loksatta Movement, Justice Kanade hit out at the Cricket Board for holding IPL matches in the state reeling under drought and observed, “only if water supply to BCCI is cut, you will understand.”

Deferring the matter until tomorrow, the bench asked the State Government to declare its stand on what steps it had planned to take on the issue.

The bench asked BCCI and the cricket associations, “how can you waste water like this….Are people 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 (about drought).”

“Ideally, you should shift the IPL matches to some other state where water is in abundance,” the court observed.

The high court, while hearing this petition, had yesterday sought responses from the respondents including Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Vidarbha Cricket Association, Maharashtra government and the civic bodies of Mumbai and Nagpur.

Notably, IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla had yesterday ruled out shifting the matches out of Maharashtra on account of the drought and water scarcity.

The court today asked the Mumbai Cricket Association how much water would be used in Wankhede stadium here.

To this, MCA’s lawyer replied they would be using over 40 lakh litres water for the 7 IPL matches to be held there.

Meanwhile, the petitioner urged that until the PIL is decided, interim relief may be granted to restrain all the the cricket associations in Maharashtra from using water to maintain the pitches.

The bench said it would hear the parties on the interim relief tomorrow. It also asked the acting Advocate General Rohit Deo to appear for the state government.