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Published : Apr 28, 2016, 6:49 am IST
Updated : Apr 28, 2016, 6:49 am IST

Maharashtra has been reeling under severe drought for many years. There is scarcity of water and farmers need water to survive. People are starving and are in a bad shape.

Lalchand Rajput
 Lalchand Rajput

Maharashtra has been reeling under severe drought for many years. There is scarcity of water and farmers need water to survive. People are starving and are in a bad shape.

However, I was surprised by the Bombay high court’s decision to allow only six of the 19 IPL matches scheduled in Maharashtra to be held in the state and its order to the organisers that it shift out the rest from April 30. First and foremost, are people going to get water as a result of this Will the drought situation improve if matches are shifted out of Maharashtra What is the logic behind this decision

Yes, people (in cricket) would like to help. I think a better way would be if the IPL cricketing franchises could come together and see how water could be provided in the long term to Latur, the area worst-affected by water shortage in Maharashtra. Now the state government is providing water by sending water to Latur by train.

There are many means of providing water to people. Those means should have been targeted rather than targeting the sport. IPL is an event people love to watch.

It provides entertainment and helps players. It helps a lot of other people get jobs too. If IPL is shifted out of Maharashtra, what happens to the people of Maharashtra who have been employed by IPL IPL doesn’t just benefit cricketers but also those employed in the support staff — organising committee members, workers in the hospitality and travel sector — who are in turn affected by the decision to shift IPL out of Maharashtra.

The two new IPL franchises — Rising Pune Supergiants and Gujarat Lions — will incur heavy losses because of this decision as they have just entered the league and are in it for only two years. The other franchises have been around for eight years so they can at least cover up the losses incurred from shifting of match venues.

Now that matches have been shifted to Jaipur, Rajasthan, the people over there are also saying they have been hit by drought, so shifting IPL match venues from one place to another will not solve the problem. Many other states are also facing water scarcity. If this is the case, it means you cannot play cricket at all!

Franchises could have suggested a pipeline from the nearest reservoir to Latur. I’m just giving an example as we have to look at the feasibility.

Cricket is a national sport and everyone should get an opportunity to watch it. Shifting IPL matches out of Maharashtra means people will be deprived an opportunity to watch these games live. Instead of getting to the root cause of water shortage and thinking of how to provide water to drought-affected areas we are changing match venues which, again, affects many people as it threatens their livelihood.

(As told to Noel D’Souza)

Lalchand Rajput is a former India cricketer and former manager of the Indian cricket team

$Find the root cause, don’t target cricket

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Moving Indian Premier League matches won’t help improve the drought situation too much but the stakes are high and it is about bringing the current poor water governance and neglect by successive governments in Maharashtra to the centrestage of public discourse. It is an established fact that parts of Maharashtra, including Navi Mumbai, Thane, Bhiwandi and most parts of Mumbai are facing an unimaginable water crisis. The distress in Marathwada is severe. It is sad that we take issues like poisoned air and scarce water so casually. In a functional democracy, we would expect an uproar in the Maharashtra Assembly. The Opposition protest so that the government is forced to respond. But citizens can see the utter failure here from both the government and the Opposition to address the water crisis in the state.

The state government is hostage to vested interests and hence unable to deal with a crisis like this, despite massive expenditure. Usually, the courts encourage a dialogue in these matters which is precisely what the Bombay high court did for more than a week. The Maharashtra government, prompted by the court, could have come up with an all-encompassing response. But look at what the government did in court. So you can’t blame the courts for shifting IPL out of Maharashtra.

The drought in Maharashtra is a man-made disaster. Poor rain cannot be the sole reason for the sever drought. If one considers the average rainfall across the state, the blame-it-on-nature argument falls flat. If there is one point in common with all governments that have ruled the state, it is their complete apathy towards water management. None of the recent governments in Maharashtra gave importance to water conservation, drip irrigation or rejuvenating the ground water table, as each government was run by sugar barons. Four per cent of land under sugarcane cultivation consumes as much as 71.5 per cent of irrigation water, including from wells.

Maharashtra has a substantial number of dams. But politicians propose irrigation facilities in areas where they have business interests — sugar cooperatives or dairies.

Revamping crop insurance and land titling schemes are long-term solutions which will take time to fructify. It would be smart to end free or subsidised access to canal water and electricity for crops like sugarcane.

Indian politics lives from crisis to crisis, the state is often working on diminishing its own credibility, and principles of constitutional government have long been thrown out of the window. People expect that resources, at least when depleting dangerously, will be equitably distributed. I chose the public interest litigation route against the IPL to vent my outrage and exasperation about the situation.

Surendra Srivastava is national president of the Loksatta Movement. His PIL led to the IPL matches being shifted out of Maharashtra.

$Drought is a result of govt apathy

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