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Wise advice?

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday slammed the Mumbai and Maharashtra cricket associations for the water they plan to use to prepare pitches for the upcoming IPL tournament at a time when the state is suffering from drought. With no definitive plan from the government to save water for the upcoming season, the court suggested that cricket matches should ideally be moved out of Maharashtra to a place where there isn’t a water crisis. Suffice to say, it is a wise suggestion, even though the court has no real business in directing a private body on how to run its affairs. But it is a question of basic empathy. Farmers have suffered consecutive crop failures due to deficient rainfall. In the past two and half months, more than 200 farmers across eight districts in Maharashtra committed suicide. Recently, district authorities in Latur were forced to invoke Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code to prevent violence over in the drought-hit zone. Under the collector’s order, not more than five people are allowed to gather near 20 water storage tanks until May 31 in order to prevent  any possible act of violence. The situation has grown so dire in the city that authorities have restricted the supply of municipal water to once a month. Suffice to say, the escalating water crisis is primarily down to short-sighted considerations that have engulfed its politics and agriculture.  In Maharashtra’s sugar belt, which includes the drought-stricken Marathwada region, sugarcane production has been on the rise. For those unfamiliar with agricultural practices, sugarcane is a water guzzling crop. In 2014-15, a year in which the sugar belt faced a serious drought, it declared record production of sugarcane. The crop consumes over 70 percent of irrigated water while occupying just 4 percent of the State’s farmland. Suffice to say, the sugar lobby and the number of local politicians beholden to it have influenced agriculture policy in the State. Coming back to the issue at hand, it would have been better if the High Court had also ordered the BCCI/IPL to buy a couple of hundred water tankers and send them to the stricken areas.
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