The Bombay High Court today ordered the BCCI to shift all the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches scheduled after April 30 in drought-hit Maharashtra out of the state. This would mean 13 of the 19 matches to be played in Maharashtra have to be moved to venues outside the state.
Earlier, the BCCI had argued it would not be feasible to shift the matches out of the state while stating that the Mumbai and Pune franchises are willing to contribute Rs 5 crore each towards the chief minister’s drought relief fund.
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The BCCI spelt out its stand before a bench of Justices VM Kanade and MS Karnik, hearing a PIL by NGO Loksatta Movement challenging use of large quantities of water in stadiums at a time when the state was reeling under severe drought conditions.
BCCI’s counsel Rafiq Dada also told the high court that the cricket board is ready to supply over 60 lakh litres of non-potable water to drought-hit areas in Maharashtra free of cost. He said the water will be supplied in support with Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC), Mumbai Cricket Association and Maharashtra Cricket Association.
“It would not be feasible to shift matches out of Pune as it will disturb the Pune team’s brand value and economic balance,” he said. The franchises of Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants are willing to contribute Rs 5 crore to the CM’s drought relief fund, Dada said.
Pune team franchise’s senior counsel Janak Dwarkadas told the court, “We have already invested a lot of money. Shifting matches at this stage will not only affect the finances, but if the home team’s game is shifted to another state, it will lose support.”
Dada conceded this argument and said over Rs 30 crore have been invested by the franchises for holding the matches in their respective home cities. He said during the T20 World Cup held recently, nine qualifying mathes were held in Nagpur, but at that time nobody raised a hue and cry about water wastage.
The current IPL season was inaugurated on April 9 with the court allowing the first match in Mumbai. Eight more matches are scheduled to be held in Mumbai, nine in Pune and three in Nagpur.