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Questions in plenty

In the past month, the Judiciary has sought to compel state governments into addressing the water scarcity problem. On Thursday, the Rajasthan High Court asked the state government why IPL 2016 matches should be held in the state where the water situation is worse than that of Maharashtra’s, from where several matches have been moved after a Bombay High Court order. Last week, the Bombay High Court asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India to shift all the IPL matches to be held in Maharashtra after April 30 to other venues. The Rajasthan High Court’s remarks come at a time when the desert state is in the grips of a water crisis with 19 out of the 33 districts being drought affected. The situation has turned so dire that the government is sending water trains to districts facing an acute shortage. Nearly 17000 out of the total 44672 villages are facing a water crisis. Nineteen of the state’s 33 districts are staring at drought and severe water scarcity.  In the past, this column has argued in favour of the courts. It is a question of basic empathy. Farmers have suffered consecutive crop failures due to deficient rainfall. But others have contended that people are not dying of thirst because of the IPL. They argue that the water crisis is down to the failure of successive state governments to provide basic services to so many millions. Critics of the judiciary argue that they have failed to make adequate provisions for decades when rainfall is deficient. Even during seasons when the monsoon is generous, the state apparatus has failed to make enough provisions. Like any other business entity, the IPL generates employment and provides tax revenue. Admittedly, a lot of fat cats reward themselves with a disproportionate amount of money and other perks through the IPL. But the court is also denying many working-class people, right down to the hawkers selling snacks and souvenirs, a chance at earning a decent income. But the Judiciary has not said how their concerns will be addressed or what will take the IPL’s place. The tax revenue earned through the IPL, besides other sources, is what the government should use to develop the requisite infrastructure so that all citizens have access to water. It’s not the IPL’s mandate to provide water for the State’s citizens. It’s the government’s job, they argue.
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