It will not be feasible to shift IPL matches out of Pune, the BCCI told the Bombay High Court today while stating that franchises of Mumbai and Pune teams are willing to contribute Rs five crore towards the Chief Minister’s drought relief fund. The BCCI spelt out its stand before a bench of Justices V M Kanade and M S 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 five 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 crores 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. Dwarkadas also told the court that considering the situation in Maharashtra, the Pune franchise has already given an undertaking to BCCI that it will give monetary support to the CM’s drought relief fund and also help in transferring water to the drought-hit areas.
Acting Advocate General Rohit Deo, appearing for Maharashtra government, said that if drinking water is not being misused then the government has nothing against the IPL.
He also said that the government would not be in favour of shifting the IPL matches out of Maharashtra, if non-potable water is being used to maintain the pitches. “Is any sport so sinful or pernicious that it should be sent to another state?” Deo asked. Meanwhile, the petitioner’s lawyer, D H Mehta, said the only solution is to shift matches out of Maharashtra.
He said paying compensation and supplying water is not a solution. In the past also, IPL tournament has been shifted out of India to South Africa, he said. “What is more important, commercial loss or human loss,” he further said.
The high court had yesterday asked the BCCI whether it could shift IPL matches out of Pune in view of the grim water crisis in Maharashtra even as the cricket board said it would procure treated sewage water for maintenance of pitches in Mumbai and Pune.
The judges had also asked the board whether it can contribute to the CM’s drought relief fund. As the BCCI said it had supplied 40 lakh litres of water to stadiums per day for IPL tournaments so far, the judges had asked whether it was ready to supply the same quantity to water-starved villages in and around Pune.
Nine Indian Premier League (IPL) matches have been slotted in Pune and eight in Mumbai, where the opening match was held on April 9 at Wankhede stadium here, the BCCI’s counsel had earlier told the court. Three matches are slated to be held in Nagpur, and IPL franchise Kings XI Punjab has agreed to shift them to Mohali or elsewhere if the HC tells it, he said.