he Bombay High Court has ordered the BCCI to shift matches of the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) out of Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur in drought-hit Maharashtra after April 30, while acknowledging the contributions of Rs 5 crore each from the Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants franchises and 64 lakh litres of water from the Indian board to the city of Latur in the Marathwada region of the state. This means that 13 matches, including the final on May 29, cannot be held in Maharashtra.
As Maharashtra continues to suffer from severe drought, in particular the Marathwada region, the BCCI on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that shifting matches out of the state was not feasible because of concerns over financial investments and the brand values of the defending IPL champions MI and new entrant RPS taking a hit. However, the HC has ruled that the matches cannot go ahead beyond the end of April while Maharashtra reels from the water crisis. The BCCI must now decide alternate venues for the concerned matches from May 1. Post April 30, the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai is scheduled to host matches on May 8, 13, 15 and the final on May 29;Pune’s Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium is scheduled to host nine matches during the IPL, including the Eliminator on May 25 and the Qualifier 2 on May 27′ and Nagpur is Kings XI Punjab’s second ‘home’ ground, with the Vidarbha Cricket Association Ground slotted to host three matches on May 7, 9 and 15.
According to reports, the RPS franchise has said that shifting matches from Pune at this stage would result in the loss of brand and team value as well as home fan support. “We can’t run away from the fact that we have invested, moving out will upset the balance. The brand and value of the team gets disturbed. We are there only for two years and yet we are willing to make this sacrifice. Changing the stadia is a problem,” was the franchise’s stance, according to Times Now.
Regarding the Kings XI Punjab franchise, who are scheduled to play three matches in Nagpur, the BCCI said it needed to get in touch with the franchise but put forth an email from one of the stakeholders saying it will be a “logistical nightmare”. Anurag Thakur, the BCCI secretary, told reporters while the Bombay HC hearing was underway: “We have discussed giving help to the villages most effected by the drought. Our decision has been put forward. The BCCI is neither using potable water nor intends to do so.”
On Tuesday, against the backdrop of Maharashtra continuing to suffer from severe drought, in particular the Marathwada region of the state, the BCCI had told the Bombay HC that it would only use sewage water to maintain the pitches and stadia in Mumbai and Pune. Rafiq Dada, senior counsel for the BCCI, informed the HC that following the previous hearing, the respective state associations had entered into an agreement with the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) whereby it would provide water from its sewage treatment plant for the pitches.
The HC accepted Dada’s statements on behalf of the BCCI and a bench comprising Justice VN Kamade and Justice MS Karnik directed the board to procure an undertaking from the RWITC in regards to the same. The bench had also asked the BCCI if it was willing to donate to the Chief Minister’s drought relief fund, and if so to what extent, as well as if it would donate 40 lakhs litres of water to the drought effected areas. The BCCI has agreed to the the last two requests, but not to shifting the matches out of Maharashtra.
The Bombay HC had allowed the IPL 9 opener between hosts MI and RPS to go ahead as scheduled last Saturday, citing that the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Loksatta Movement against the use of water to hydrate the Wankhede Stadium pitches had been filed too late, and that the organisers had already made the necessary arrangements.