Indian Premier League (IPL) is never short of controversies. Just before the cash-rich league is likely to start on April 9th, a Public Interest Litigation or PIL has been filed in the Bombay High court stating that IPL matches should be shifted out of Maharashtra. This is against the drought like situation in the state. The petitioners Loksatta movement have contended that it is not the ideal situation to host 20 matches in the state as utilization of 60 lakh litres of water to maintain the grounds is not justified.
As Maharashtra faces worst drought in 100 Years, the Bombay High Court in a scathing attack on BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) stated “Ideally, you should shift the IPL matches to some other State where water is in abundance,” the court observed. But in a major relief to BCCI, the Bombay High Court refused to give the stay, giving a go ahead to the first match of the upcoming ninth season of Indian Premier League (IPL) to be held on April 9 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. The court has asked Maharashtra government to file their reply by 12th April on sources of water to be supplied to the stadiums. So the decision on the remaining 19 matches scheduled in Maharashtra has been kept pending.
But the pertinent question is whether targeting IPL is the only solution to the problem of drought. The government needs to find a long-term solution. Shifting IPL would mean a huge loss of revenue to the exchequer; fans have purchased the tickets, etc. Let’s be considerate towards the organizers too as hosting such a big event requires meticulous planning from a long time and they could not have foreseen such a situation. The petitioners have approached the court at the fag end of countdown to IPL 2016, and shifting the league matches now would be logistically impossible. Mind you, IPL brings a lot of recognition to our country; it’s a platform for many emerging young players, tourists flying into our country and so on.
Mumbai city has many Golf course and swimming pools, aren’t they consuming equal amount of water if not more? The drought like situation is more of a national phenomenon now, so is it reasonable to cancel the IPL itself? Even the neighbouring state Karnataka is facing similar drought like situation so would that be a reason to shift the Bangalore matches? IPL seems to be made a scapegoat as it is perceived more as an entertainment than sporting event. Whatever may be the perception, changing venues now is not the solution nor it would help the cause. Any changes to the schedule or venue of IPL would have cascading effect and the repercussions would be severe.
Ideally the revenue collected from the event should be used for water harvesting and recycling in stadiums for future events. The lacunae of Government water planning and management should not be a reason for depriving the cricket lover form enjoying the game. Hope the court takes a holistic view of the situation and does justice to game as well as water. This unprecedented situation should be used to address the larger issue of water management as a whole rather than a stop-gap solution.