The Bombay High Court on Thursday declined to stay the IPL opening match on April 9 here as sought by a public interest litigation challenging use of large quantity of water for maintaining pitches despite the grave water crisis in Maharashtra due to drought.The PIL, filed by Loksatta Movement, sought shifting of IPL matches out of Maharashtra and wanted a stay on the matches scheduled in other cities in the state as well in view of the water crisis. A bench of Justices V M Kanande and M S Karnik, however, said that it was not staying the match on April 9 as it wanted to know from the state government and the municipal body whether the water supplied to the stadiums in tankers was potable or non-potable.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The court was of the opinion that until this query is answered, the issue of granting stay cannot be considered. “The petition is filed just before the IPL matches are to begin from April 9…we do not propose to grant a stay at this stage…we want to know the source of water supplied to the cricket grounds for maintaining the pitches”, the bench observed in its order. The Judges also asked the state government and the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai to file separate affidavits by April 12, stating whether the water supplied to stadiums during the IPL matches was potable or non-potable.
ALSO READ Maharashtra drought: Latur to get water by train in 15 daysThe Judges also asked both the authorities to inform whether they had formulated any policy for supply of potable and non-potable water to Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan and other cities in Maharashtra. The bench also sought to know from the state and the civic body whether any contingency plans had been drawn in case of further scarcity of water due to delayed monsoon this year.The Judges also asked the authorities to inform in their affidavits whether they had made any inquiries about the source of water supplied to the stadiums through tankers. The bench also asked the authorities to inform whether they had imposed any restraint on use of water in marriages and receptions during April-May 2016 when the state was facing acute water scarcity. Earlier, rapping Maharashtra government, the bench said “this is a serious issue…the government needs to look at it seriously.” “People who have money can afford to have as much water as they can whereas in other places people are getting water once in three days…this is an anomaly,” Justice Kanade said.
ALSO READ Maharashtra drought: Sena makes jibe at CM Fadnavis; says people need to be alive to say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’Altogether 20 matches will be played in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur and all these cities are facing water crisis, said the petition. This prompted Justice Kanade to remark “you (state) are dealing with people at large….animals have died, cattle have died, people are dying and you want to maintain pitches and grounds?” The bench asked the government to spell out what short-term and long-term measures it has planned to tide over the water crisis. “It is not the question of IPL alone…what are your (state’s) priorities..how will you regulate water supply…we want to know what you propose to do,” observed Justice Kanade during the hearing.Referring to the issue of tanker lobby, he said “I am told that these tankers charge over Rs 900 per tanker….how it is permissible….how can you allow this…after all, the wells and borewells from where they draw water belong to the Corporation.” Rafiq Dada, BCCI Counsel, said that for IPL matches, the pitches have to remain dry a day before the tournament and a day after that. Hence, water is not required for maintaining the pitches every day.
ALSO READ Supreme Court pulls up Centre on drought relief; says you can’t turn a blind eye towards affected statesActing Advocate General Rohit Deo assured that the state had decided at a high-level meeting today that not a single drop of potable water would be used for maintaining pitches in the stadiums during IPL matches. “We are going to ask the BCCI how much water would they need,” he said.In terms of water scarcity, Mumbai was better off compared to other places in drought-hit state, said the Advocate General. He said, from May 1, water would be transported to Latur in Marathwada region.Justice Kanade remarked “is it not the duty of the state to inquire about water to be used in the stadiums when a drought situation prevails?” “Tankers cannot be used to supply municipal water. Can you allow municipal corporation to make profits by supplying water?,” the Judges said.The bench also sought to know whether the state was considering to draw water from other states to tide over the drought situation in Maharashtra. The PIL contended that 60 lakh litres of water would be used to maintain the pitches at the stadiums where IPL matches would be held from April 9 and it was the state government’s responsibility to impose restraint on the use of water during drought.
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