No IPL matches in Maha after Apr 30: HC
In a big blow to BCCI, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday ordered shifting of all IPL matches scheduled in Maharashtra after April 30 to another state in view of the severe drought in the state, leaving the cricket board 18 days to look for new venues for 13 matches in May.
This means that 13 matches, including the final in Mumbai on May 29, cannot be held.
The order came despite an assurance by Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises of Mumbai and Pune had agreed to contribute Rs 5 crore to Chief Minister’s (CM’s) drought relief fund.
“We agree that merely shifting of IPL matches out of the state will not be a solution but this can be a beginning to address the drought situation in Maharashtra. Several people are dying because of water scarcity in the state. This court cannot ignore the plight of such people,” a division bench of Justices V M Kanade and M S Karnik said.
The order came on a PIL by NGO ‘Loksatta Movement’ which challenged the use of over 60 lakh litres of water for ground management despite drought in the state and had sought for all the matches to be shifted out of Maharashtra.
The court also noted that several districts in Maharashtra are not even getting water for sanitation and other purposes and that the non-potable water being used by the stadiums to maintain pitches can be of use in such districts.
“In such cases one would have expected the BCCI and other respondents (Maharashtra Cricket Association and Bombay Cricket Association) to come forward on their own and shift the matches out of Maharashtra. However, unfortunately, nothing has been done. This court has now no other option than to direct BCCI to transfer matches out of Maharashtra,” the court said.
“All matches to be held from April 30 onwards in Maharashtra will have to be shifted to another state. We are giving the authorities 15 days time to make all necessary arrangements,” the court said.
After April 30, 13 matches were scheduled to be held in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur which includes an eliminator match on May 25 and qualifier match on May 27 in Pune and the finals on May 29 in Mumbai.
BCCI counsel Rafiq Dada on Wednesday told the court that the cricket board and the IPL franchises were ready to procure equal amount of sewage treated water from RWITC and supply it to drought hit areas.
“If the IPL matches are shifted outside Maharashtra at the most the BCCI and IPL franchises will suffer financial loss. Considering the drought situation in Maharashtra it will be better if the matches are held outside the state,” the court said.
The court, while disposing of the PIL, said it would continue monitoring the issue of implementation of water policy by the state government in other similar petitions.
“There is no doubt that the state of Maharashtra and many districts in Marathwada region are facing severe drought.
The situation in Marathwada is very acute with the people there not getting a single drop of water since many days. All dams and rivers have gone dry and water had to be supplied via train to Latur,” the court noted.
The court in its order also came down heavily on Maharashtra government for turning a “blind eye” to the situation.