After tremendous public outrage and scathing remarks from the Bombay High Court, the fate of the matches of IPL Season 9 hangs in thin balance. Although the Bombay High Court allowed the BCCI to conduct the first match at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday, it has minced no words in conveying that prioritising cricket over thirsty people and dying cattle was a “criminal waste”.
With big money riding high on the 20 matches of IPL to be held in the three cities of Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur, the BCCI had already told the court that it would be very difficult to shift the venue of the matches at the last minute. The first match was held in Mumbai on Saturday night between Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants. According to the schedule released by the organisers, the next match to be held in the state will be on 16 April. It will be played between Mumbai Indians and Gujarat Lions.
Meanwhile, many online petitions have been floated requesting Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the BCCI to move the games out of the state considering the severe drought conditions here. “We hope and trust that wiser counsel will prevail on those who are organising these IPL matches and we also hope that they will consider the situation in its proper perspective and take a decision,” the Bombay High Court said.
It had come down heavily on the BCCI for its insensitive remarks in the court about conducting the IPL matches. At one point, the court even said that the BCCI will understand the gravity of the matter only when water supply to its ground is cut.
Many people have also rallied on social networking platforms, urging fans to ban IPL matches happening in Maharashtra. A dedicated page has been launched on Facebook, asking people to ban the IPL matches happening in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur.
A petition filed on change.org by one Nikitesh Vadhani said: “60 lakh litres of water will be spent in one season of IPL. That is no less than 3,00,000 litres for one match!!! With over 15 farmers dying in Maharashtra every day, the more fortunate like you and I are allowing an insensitive indulgence for selfish reasons of pleasure and joy. Every cricket game involves cleaning and washing of the pitch, that demands thousands of litres of water every day. With 1,000 litres of water, we can save dozens of families in the down-trodden regions of our own state. Like Holi, but to a bigger extent, IPL is ruining India’s situation and it gains success on the insensitivity of people like you and I.”
The petition added, “Let us join hands, show compassion to our neighbours, and demand the BCCI to move the venues of IPL from Maharashtra. Even better, ban IPL completely. But, that agenda is for another time. Let us eradicate this nonsensical tournament, a garish display of wealth, from our lives.”
Another person on Facebook asked if fans were willing to ban the matches happening in Mumbai. “Will you ban watching it on TV as well,” her Facebook post read. There is widespread anger among many on the organisation of such a huge event at a time when the state is facing a severe drought.
Meanwhile, the BCCI will tell the Bombay High Court this week about its proposal regarding holding the IPL matches in Maharashtra. It had told the court during a hearing that the cricket pitches require daily watering for proper maintenance. “Ultimately, the question is: what you will give priority to—a game or people who will die without water? Is it necessary to maintain grounds and pitches when people are dying? If this is the argument, we are very shocked,” the division bench had said. Meanwhile, a BJP functionary has targeted the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) over its tanker remark. The MCA had told the court that it did not use potable water for the pitches, but instead used tanker water. “The MCA claims that they use tanker water. Now even this water is BMC water. The tanker lobby has been given water points at various places in Mumbai MCGM area. And from these water points, water is filled by these tanker owners. Thus the claim of MCA that they use tanker water is silly and totally misleading,” said Vivekanand Gupta of BJP.