The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) has told the Bombay High Court that it will not use potable water, either purchased privately or provided by the BMC, for watering the pitch and for other maintenance work at the Wankhede stadium during this year’s IPL matches. In a hearing conducted on January 24, MCA’s counsel AS Khandeparkar told the HC that the association will only use water that is conserved from its rainwater harvesting system and from its own ‘ring wells’ constructed at Wankhede stadium last year, for watering the pitch, for the toilets and for cleaning and maintenance purposes. Khandeparkar said that around 3,30,000 litres of water will be required for the above purposes on each day of the IPL match in the city. However, when a bench of justices A S Oka and P N Deshmukh asked if the MCA will also follow the same practice in the future IPL matches in Mumbai, Khandeparkar said that he could not make such a statement about the future matches.
The division bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the NGO Loksatta Movement in 2016, opposing the IPL matches scheduled in Mumbai and some other cities in the state that year, due to the prevailing drought-like situation in Maharashtra at the time. While the 2016 matches were shifted out of the state following the high court order, the PIL had also urged the court to ensure that the provisions of the state as well as the national water policy were adhered to for the IPL matches in the future. Earlier last year, another bench headed by Justice Oka had directed the MCA to file an affidavit clarifying whether the IPL was a “sport or a commercial activity.”
The MCA had filed an affidavit at the time stating that IPL falls under the category of ‘recreational activities and sports’. Maharashtra’s own water policy and the national water policy mandate that when it comes to water supply, first priority must be given to drinking purposes, second to agriculture, third to industrial needs, fourth to sports and the last to religious, and entertainment activities. The bench has now fixed the case for February 28 for final disposal, where it will examine all the aspects in detail before passing the final order on the issue.