All IPL 2016 matches scheduled in Maharashtra after April 30 must be moved out of the state, the Bombay High Court has ruled. The ruling came after a Public Interest Litigation questioned the hosting of matches in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur due to a severe drought in Maharashtra.
The ruling affects 13 matches, including the final which was to be held in Mumbai on May 29. Pune will miss out on six matches, including the Eliminator and Qualifier 2, while no games will be held in Nagpur. The state was earlier scheduled to host 20 matches.
Last week, the court had sought an explanation from the BCCI and the three state associations on why water should be “wasted” on hosting the games when the state faced one of its worst ever droughts. The court later allowed the opening match to be held as scheduled in Mumbai on April 9, and asked the Maharashtra state government and Mumbai’s civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, to respond on plans to tackle the issue of water shortage. On Tuesday, the court orally asked the BCCI if matches could be shifted out of Pune.
In its defence, the BCCI had stated that less water was used to prepare the ground for an IPL game when compared to an international fixture. The board also stated that it intended to use treated sewage water for ground preparation in Mumbai and Pune. Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants, the franchises based in Mumbai and Pune, had proposed to contribute INR 5 crore to the Maharashtra chief minister’s drought relief fund and supply 40 lakh litres of water to drought-hit areas at their own cost.
While the BCCI is mulling its next move, IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla has admitted that moving games out of Maharashtra is a logistical problem for the board. He also pointed out that no objections of this kind were raised when Mumbai and Nagpur hosted World T20 matches last month.
“Organising the IPL is a gigantic work. It’s not easy. All preparations had been done, completed,” Shukla said. “Now shifting the matches will be a problem. So far, we have not got the written order, after we get that, we will study the order and work out an alternative plan. We always respect the court. We need to talk to other franchises. Out of 19 matches in Maharashtra, 13 have to be moved out, we will have to work it out.
“The key problem is water for farmers, which we are trying to find a solution to. We were willing to give water, contribute to the CM’s fund. Now shifting matches will be a problem. If matches are to be shifted, where will they be moved, how will they be moved, all these issues are involved. And this comes after nobody raised an issue about the 24 World Twenty20 matches that were held recently.
“Nobody raised these issues for six months. Whatever was required, we were willing to do. In fact, I would like to point out that a lot many other sports and cultural events are going on in Maharashtra, which also use water and they should also help.”
Anurag Thakur, the BCCI secretary, said there was an attempt to create negativity over issues: “We are not using drinking water, we have said that we will use treated sewage water only. How many swimming pools of 5 star hotels have been shut? Have people stopped watering their lawns? There is an attempt to create negativity on every issue these days. IPL was to use 0.00038% of water so that shows the requirement was not much.”
Ness Wadia, co-owner of the Kings XI Punjab franchise, welcomed the order. Kings XI were scheduled to play three home matches in Nagpur between May 7 and 15, apart from games in Mumbai and Pune on May 13 and 21, respectively. “I’m very happy with this, we welcome this decision,” he said. (Courtesy Cricinfo)