The Bombay High Court on Wednesday said that it will allow Indian Premier League (IPL) matches in Maharashtra until April 30 after which the rest of the matches must be shifted out of the state.
The hearing was in respect to the petition filed by an NGO asking that IPL matches be shifted out of the drought affected state.
The direction was given after BCCI informed the court that it would henceforth use treated sewage water, provided by the Royal Western Indian Turf Club (RWITC) in Mumbai and Pune, to maintain its grounds and pitches.
The BCCI on Wednesday in a reply to a plea in Bombay High Court asking the cricket body to shift IPL matches out of drought-hit Maharashtra said that the cricket body and three IPL franchise teams are willing to pay money for the CM's Drought Relief Fund and supply over 40 lakh water to affected areas.
According to a DNA report, a division bench of justices V M Kanade and M S Karnik in the Bombay HC asked yesterday the BCCI to inform them if it was willing to donate to the chief minister's drought relief fund and if it would provide around 40 lakh litres of water to areas where there is scarcity. It further asked the BCCI to consider shifting a few IPL matches, to be held in Pune, out of the state.
The BCCI replied to it saying, "We are ready to supply more than 40 lakh litres of water to the drought hit areas, be it Latur or any place. We're paying Rs five crores directly for the drought relief and the RWITC has given in undertaking that they will not back out.'' The Mumbai and Pune team franchises are willing to give Rs five crore each towards CM drought relief fund, the BCCI told HC.
BCCI also said that it will consult Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA )to shift Nagpur matches somewhere else. It also reiterated that the RWITC has given undertaking about supply of required recycled sewage water for Mumbai and Pune stadiums.
The HC ordered the government to monitor the promised water (by BCCI) and see that it has supplied it to affected areas. "We propose to monitor state water policy," said HC.
Hitting out at the state government, HC said, "The state Govt files affidavit, says they have no objection if the matches are shifted out of the state but on the other hand they are saying that shifting matches will not solve the problem, but the court can't close eyes from the plight of millions.
Bombay HC observes that Maharashtra Govt is passing bucks to municipal corporation
"Tickets are sold, there are many other people involved who are benefited by IPL, so the IPL should be allowed," says BCCI. The cricket body also said, "There are many ways to find long term solutions for water scarcity.
"As far as BCCI or MCA is concerned, they just get the rent of the stadium, rest is franchise's profit."
The Pune franchise lawyer before the hearing had opposed shifting of IPL matches outside Pune, saying "If the matches are shifted our local support benefit will go and we will suffer financial losses." The Pune franchise's lawyer also said that large part of what the court and the petitioner suggested is being done and that they were ready for something more as suggested by petitioners and court.
The petitioner that asked whether money can be substituted for water, in response to the Pune franchise lawyer statement about facing losses over shifting of venue. "In 2009 also, IPL was shifted to South Africa," the petitioner said.
During the hearing, petitioner's lawyer said, "We have report confirming that RWITC was penalised in past for illegal usage of water."
The Bombay High Court had on Tuesday asked the cash-rich Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) if it would compensate the state by donating money and providing water to drought-affected areas for holding the
Indian Premier League (IPL) in Maharashtra, and using non-potable water for maintaining grounds and pitches. The state is facing a severe drought, and as many as nine IPL matches are to be played in Pune and eight in Mumbai.
Petitioners also informed the court that Kings 11 Punjab and VCA have been served notice through email to be made party in the matter
The directions were given during the hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Loksatta Movement, seeking directions to the government to shift IPL matches outside Maharashtra. The petition claimed that around 40-60 lakh litres of water will be used to maintain pitches, which instead could be diverted to people facing severe shortage of water in Vidarbha and Marathwada.