The inaugural match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will be held as scheduled at the Wankhede on April 9 after the Bombay High Court refused a stay on Thursday.
The court, however, postponed its decision on the remaining 19 matches scheduled across the state till April 12, the next date of hearing. The second IPL game in the state is scheduled to be played at the Wankhede on April 16.
A bench headed by Justice VM Kanade allowed the first match to go ahead as scheduled following the BCCI’s submission that a stay would be “unfair” since the public interest litigation (PIL) was filed at the eleventh hour and arrangements were already made.
The bench took a dim view of the state government and cricket associations scheduling and subsequently justifying the matches in the state despite acute water shortage in Maharashtra. The PIL opposes holding the 20 league matches in the state as huge amount of water will be used to prepare pitches.
The court took a stern note of the BCCI’s submission that pitches in the state were of international standard and would die a “natural death” if not watered adequately each day.
Senior counsel Rafiq Dada, who appeared for the Board, said an international-standard pitch in Latur “had already died a natural death”. “Besides, will the water that we are being prevented to use for the IPL be used for Latur and Marathwada? If you have to be logical, stop watering all gardens and grounds,” he argued.
He submitted that the IPL was aiding the water situation in Maharashtra as pitches that are required to be “watered twice a day are mandatorily kept dry for 48 hours before a game”.
It didn’t go down well with the court. “At least show that you care. We had thought after the last hearing you will understand how grave the situation is and come to the court proposing a solution. Instead, you want to argue about gardens,” it said.
“The situation is worsening with every passing minute. You care about the death of pitches when people and cattle are dying every day. This is not a question of IPL but of priority. Does the state not consider its own people a priority?”
Earlier during the hearing, the BCCI had told the court that it was using only non-potable water for the pitches and stadiums in Pune and that Nagpur had wells and bore-wells for this purpose.
The state government told the court that since August it had imposed a 15 percent cut on water supply to stadiums and the Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) was supplying only 22,000 litres of potable water to them per day. “This amounts to 0.00058 percent of the total drinking water supplied in the city by BMC. We do not know where they are getting the lakhs of litres of water from,” acting advocate general Rohit Deo said.
The Bench questioned the disbursal of such large quantities of drinking water to stadiums. It directed the cricket associations to hold meetings and decide on changing the venues for the remaining matches. Mumbai, Nagpur, and Pune are to host 20 matches between April 9 and May 29.