MCA is engaged in a legal battle to ensure that they are not forced to shift the IPL matches out of Maharashtra in 2018 as it had happened in 2016.
The issue is related to a pending petition in the Bombay High Court. The High Court had ordered in 2016 to shift some of the Indian Premier League matches out of Maharashtra on account of prevailing drought conditions in the State.
Around 80,000 liters of water is required to maintain the ground during the IPL season between April and May. There is more consumption on the day before the match and the match day. In addition, another 250,000 liters are required to meet the needs of the spectators and officials.
The Mumbai Cricket Association has submitted it to the court that the IPL is a sports’ and not an entertainment event. Therefore it can’t be relegated to the bottom of the water priority list during crisis situations. The IPL as an entertainment event was categorized among the least prioritized heads under Maharashtra and National Water Policy.
The policy states that water for drinking purposes has to be given the first priority. Second in the list is agriculture and hydro projects, next comes commercial and industrial purpose, fourth is environment and recreation and last comes any other purpose like religion, entertainment etc.
The MCA is pleading that IPL as a sport should be listed in the fourth category – environment and recreational.
Advocate A S Khandeparkar, representing the MCA before the division bench of Bombay High Court headed by Justice Abhay Oka, has argued that the IPL was a sporting or recreational activity, so it should come in the fourth category of priority according to the water resource management plan.
The MCA has argued that the cricket pitches have to be maintained for cricket matches other than the IPL. It all comes under sporting category.
MCA also submitted that the Wankhede Stadium has been fortified with two ring wells. Another ring well is under construction. Rain water harvesting has also started at the stadium from March this year. The steps were taken since the matches were shifted out of the venue in 2016.
MCA has submitted that from 2018 the water saved in ring wells will be used for the IPL matches. The IPL games are held during the peak summer season. MCA has also submitted that the Mumbai Municipal Corporation does not supply any water for the Wankhede Stadium.
Mr Khandeparkar further argued that other sports like football and hockey will also have to be regulated like cricket if the issue of IPL is raised. “Public usage of water like in malls will also have to be regulated if such issues are raised,” he added.
During the IPL matches last year, a petition was filed against thousands of liters of water being used to maintain cricket pitches at Wankhede Stadium and other stadiums in the State. The petitioners had approached the High Court, pointing out that people did not have water to drink in many areas of the State while water was being ‘wasted’ for keeping grass green for the matches.
The court during the hearing of the petition had ordered to shift some IPL matches out of Maharashtra. The date for the final hearing is fixed for September before the court will pass its verdict after that.