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Drought: SC raps Centre, HC frowns on BCCI

Drought: SC raps Centre, HC frowns on BCCI
On the same day, the Bombay High Court pulled up the BCCI and cricket associations in Maharashtra and Mumbai over water wastage when the State is reeling under severe drought.

The Supreme Court told the Union government that nine states were suffering from drought, and a blind eye cannot be turned towards their problems. “If you are not releasing the funds, then no one will like to work. States will say they have no funds, so they can’t pay anyone for MGNREGA work. No state will make any commitment to the people,” a bench headed by Justice MB Lokur said. “Relief has to be given immediately and not after one year. Temperature is soaring at 45 degree Celsius, there is no drinking water, nothing is there. You have to do something and provide relief on time,” the bench said. It said as per government’s own figures, average workdays was 48 days, while the statute says it should be 100 days.

“The argument holds substance that since you (Centre) are not releasing the funds, states are not willing to allocate works to people under MGNREGA and hence the average workdays will fall,” the bench also comprising Justice NV Ramana said. 

“We should realize that there is a problem. Nine states and now Rajasthan have declared drought. It is difficult to believe that there is no drought in Bundelkhand and Marathwada,” the bench said. The bench is examining various aspects of relief given to drought-hit farmers during the hearing of a PIL filed by NGO Swaraj Abhiyan seeking urgent implementation of guidelines for areas hit by natural calamity.

The PIL filed by the NGO has alleged that parts of 12 states of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana and Chattisgarh were hit by drought and the authorities were not providing adequate relief.

Meanwhile, the Bombay HC on Wednesday said ideally Indian Premier League (IPL) matches should be shifted elsewhere, where there is no water crisis.  “Only if water supply to the BCCI is cut, you will understand,” the court observed. The court also told the state that ultimately it is the government’s responsibility and duty to do something about this (water wastage) and impose some kind of restraint. It asked the government to spell out on Thursday what steps it plans to take on the issue.

“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 VM Kanade and MS Karnik said, while hearing a PIL filed by NGO Loksatta Movement. The court asked whether according to the 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. The PIL has challenged the use of nearly 60,000 litres of water to maintain pitches at three stadiums in the state which will hold IPL matches.
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