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.
The 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 Chief Minister’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 matches 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.
Keywords: IPL matches in Maharashtra, BCCI, Bombay High Court, Bombay HC diktat, Rising Pune Supergiants, Mumbai Indians, CM drought relief fund