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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Maharashtra facing acute water crisis - should IPL be played in Maha !!

After Asia Cup and ICC T20 WC – Cricket fans will be treated more .. though Chennai fans who had all along whistled and painted town yellow would be finding it difficult as in July  2015, the RM Lodha committee suspended the owners of the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals franchises for a period of two years on charges of spot-fixing and betting during the 2013 IPL season.  The 2016 season of the Indian Premier League, abbreviated as IPL 9 or Vivo IPL 2016, will be the ninth season of the IPL, held  between 9 April and 29 May 2016. The season will have two new franchises, the Gujarat Lions and Rising Pune Supergiants based in the cities of Rajkot and Pune respectively.  In all there will be 60 matches played, including 56 Group Stage Matches and 4 Play-off Matches.  The 2016 season will be the first IPL season to use LED stumps.

All people, especially bloggers would be busy… remember the earlier South Africa session of IPL 2009 – when fake IPL player drew everyone’s attention.   People relished the blog which gave  unflattering nicknames to players, coaches, and owners of KKR and other teams, telling sordid stories, and showing most of them in a very negative light.  For long it was believed to be of a fringe KKR player who was upset at not being part of the core team.  In that  2009 IPL season took place in South Africa, two KKR players, Aakash Chopra and Sanjay Bangar, were sent home to India midway through the tournament.

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Its middle name perhaps is controversy – prior to CSK and RR, there was a franchise from Kochi, Tuskers that was banned after a brief existence. In a final at Wankhede, bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan was embroiled  in an altercation with a security guard and was banned from entering the stadium.  In 2010, our own Sir Jadeja was found to have violated the IPL code of conduct by seeking to secure a better contract with other teams in the league. The IPL handed Jadeja a one-year ban for his act of indiscipline and for breaking the player trading rules.  

                The next year a player, Luke Pomersbach chased and allegedly molested a young woman and was arrested by Delhi Police.  Indian leg-spinner Rahul Sharma and South African fast bowler Wayne Parnell were arrested by the Mumbai police after being caught at a rave party in Juhu.

The biggest of them all – the man who created, administered and made rich the coffers of BCCI, Lalit Modi was dismissed by the Board in 2010, after IPL 3 for  financial irregularities.  There was the spot-fixing controversy too. 

For many years, I have firmly believed that IPL in floodlights was blunder and against common man, especially at times, when Chennai and other parts of the State and Country were facing severe power crisis.  Now here is another ethic-centric controversy.

The opening match of IPL 2016 will be played in Mumbai on April 9 as scheduled after the Bombay High Court adjourned a matter related to the hosting of matches in the drought-hit state of Maharashtra. While hearing a Public Interest Litigation on Wednesday and Thursday, the High Court had sought an explanation from the BCCI and the three state associations on why water should be "wasted" on IPL matches in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur following a severe state-wide drought in recent months. The matter will next be heard on April 12 – and match will be held meantime !!

While the division bench, comprising Justices VM Kanade and MS Karnik, has not yet passed an order, it  reportedly  asked the Maharashtra government and Mumbai's civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, to file replies outlining plans to address the issue of water shortage in the state. The court has also asked for a report on how the water suppliers for organisations like the BCCI are getting water from.

Crifinfo reports that the Advocate General's office, appearing on behalf of the state, contended that 21,000 litres of water were sanctioned to the Wankhede Stadium for use per day, 0.00058% of the water utilised by city of Mumbai. "We don't care about a tournament like the IPL. Their interests are purely commercial and to mint money," the court said on Thursday. "But just because they can pay for water tankers providing water at a premium rate, while others can't afford it, means there is a problem that the state has failed to identify and address. "The state authorities must, therefore, find out where the BCCI's water suppliers get their water from. That is not the BCCI's prerogative, it is the State's."

While the court stressed on the accountability of civic agencies, it also criticised the arguments made by the BCCI counsel in response to the PIL filed by Loksatta Movement, a Hyderabad-based NGO, which had demanded relocation of IPL matches from Maharashtra. The board's senior counsel, Rafique Dada, said that less water was used at the grounds during the IPL in comparison to preparations for an international match. "For international matches, there is a requirement for pitches to be watered 48 hours prior to the match, but for IPL matches, it is just watered twice a day on the day of the match." Dada submitted. "Therefore, if taken to its logical conclusion, there is less water used during the IPL than otherwise."

Dada added that apart from watering pitches, the remaining usage of water was "routine" by the standards of "all international stadia for its day-to-day maintenance". He also argued that prohibiting such day-to-day maintenance would lead pitches and grounds of international standards to "die a natural death". In response, Justice Kanade observed: "We were expecting you (the board) to show some consideration or at least submit that you will consider using the water for the tournament responsibly. But here you are almost suggesting that grounds and pitches are more important than people who are dying without water in the state."
Arshil Shah, who represented the petitioners, insisted the court pass an interim order to stop the IPL matches in Maharashtra until the report from the state and civic agencies is submitted. The court rejected the suggestion. "Let the report be submitted, if it shows that moving the matches out of the state will help address the water drought situation, then we shall consider," the bench said.

Overall Maharashtra is scheduled to host 20 matches in the ninth edition of the IPL. Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai will host eight matches, including the tournament opener on April 9 and the final on May 29. Nine matches have been allotted to the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium in Pune, including the Eliminator on May 25 and Qualifier 2 on May 27, while three matches will be played at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur, designated as home games for Kings XI Punjab.

BCCI officials refused to comment after the case was adjourned. At a sponsor event on Tuesday, however, IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla had ruled out moving matches out of Maharashtra. "We are with the farmers of Maharashtra, and will look to help them in all possible ways. If the Maharashtra government brings a proposal (in this regard), then the BCCI president, all of us, will think in what way we can help the farmers," Shukla said. "And I, through my MPLAD [Members of Parliament Local Area Development] fund, am going to personally adopt some villages in Marathwada [one of the regions hit hardest by the drought].
He is quoted as saying - Sport is a different thing, it needs little water. Farmers need huge amount of water. All political parties should come together to deal with this crisis." BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur said that shifting matches at the last minute was not easy and could result in financial losses.

Water, electricity, people transportation – what, it is revenue that is always important ! The Maharashtra government has declared drought in 12,000 villages across Vidarbha. The decision will help farmers growing cotton, paddy and soyabean across the region, who were not eligible for the special drought package as per the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) guidelines. Of the total 12,000 villages, nearly 5,900 come under Amravati division.  In its efforts to raise more funds for tackling drought in the state, Maharashtra government has decided to levy a surcharge of Rs 2 on petrol and diesel while VAT on liquor, cigarettes and beverages have also been raised by 5 per cent. The surcharge on Value Added Tax (VAT) for gold and diamond jewellery will be 1.20 per cent.  This is to tide over the crisis. 

As many as 1,109 farmers in Maharashtra’s water-stressed Marathwada region of eight districts ended their life in 2015, according to this Indian Express report. Rainfall over the last two years in three of the worst-affected districts was comparable to the lowest in the 20th century. Nine of India’s 29 states–Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Odisha and West Bengal–declared a drought in 2015,seeking as much as Rs 20,000 crore in Central aid. The Centre has given Maharashtra the highest agricultural aid: Rs 3049 crore.

With regards – S.Sampathkumar

7th April 2016

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