Uncertainty remains over the fate of 19 matches of the Indian Premier League scheduled to be held at various cities in Maharashtra with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis making it clear that the government would not provide portable water for the matches.
The chief minister said he don't mind even if the matches are shifted out of the state. "Water is more important for us than cricket. So, even if the cricket matches are shifted out of Maharashtra, I don't mind," Fadnavis said.
The Bombay High Court had come down heavily on the authorities' decision to hold matches in Maharshtra at a time when the state is reeling under unprecedented drought. The court, however, has granted permission for the opening match in Mumbai on April 9.
The high court, while hearing the plea, had said that people, not game, should be given priority.
According to international pitch guidelines, three lakh litres of water is required to maintain a pitch. If the 20 matches are allowed to be played in the state a total of 60 lakh litres of water will have to be used. As per the schedule, eight matches will be hosted in Mumbai, nine in Pune and three matches in Nagpur.
Advocate Ankita Verma told a portal that the IPL is a luxury which Maharashtra cannot afford. Over 2,000 farmers have committed suicide till September 2015 in the state, she said.
IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla, however, ruled out shifting the matches out of Maharashtra on account of the drought and water scarcity.
The cash-rich tournament is set to begin from April 9 when Mumbai Indians will take on Rising Pune Supergiants at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium.