IPL becomes hot potato over drought issue

Jaipur’s IPL foray after three years is ridden with controversy. From a PIL in the Rajasthan High Court to Opposition Congress milking the issue over water shortage, the IPL has become a hot potato for the Vasundhara Raje government.

Hearing the PIL against the holding of IPL matches in Jaipur due to water scarcity, Rajasthan High Court today directed the state government to file a detailed reply on the status of water shortage in the state by April 30.

A division bench comprising acting Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice D.C Somani asked the state government to give details of the measures being taken to tackle the drought in the state. The next hearing is scheduled on May 3.

Mahesh Pareek, a local journalist and the PIL petitioner, has opposed the holding of matches in Jaipur saying at least three lakh litres of water everyday was being wasted to ready the pitches when the city was facing acute water shortage. The matches scheduled on three days would see about 80 lakh litres of water being wasted for preparing the ground.

The bench said that IPL matches would bring fame to the city but Jaipur’s water shortage and the ways to tackle its scarcity should also be a priority for the government.

Jaipur which was the home team of now suspended Rajasthan Royals, were denied matches following its suspension due money betting racket and after BCCI suspended former IPL chief Lalit Modi for funds embezzlement.

Jaipur has been allotted three matches after Mumbai Indians opted for Jaipur as its alternative home ground, following a Mumbai High Court ruling to shift all IPL matches after April 30 out of Maharashtra because of severe drought.

The matches allotted are on May 8 between Mumbai Indians and Hyderabad Sunrisers, May 13 between Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab and May 15 between Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils.

Pareek said : “All 13 blocks in Jaipur city have been declared dark zones by the Central Ground Water Board and over 200 colonies in the city get drinking water through water tankers once a day. There are some colonies which get water tankers once in two days. The city is facing acute water crisis. But the grounds at the SMS Stadium are being watered with three lakh litres. But the state government has clearly overlooked everything to get matches to Jaipur.”

He also questioned the purely commercial nature of the IPL matches and why should a government go out of its way to get these matches to Jaipur, when the city is reeling under shortage of water supply.And for the first time, we are hearing the matches will be organized by event management companies. ”
The Opposition Congress in Rajasthan is out to cash in politically on the BJP government’s decision to organise IPL matches in Jaipur.
“IPL won’t quench people’s thirst,” says former Congress MLA Pratap Singh Khachariyawas. The Congress has accused the BJP government of being insensitive to people’s problems. “The BJP government should show similar enthusiasm and commitment to resolve the water crisis like it showed in bringing IPL matches and clearing hurdles in organising matches in less than 12 hours.”
Earlier, Leader of the Opposition Rameshwar Dudi had made the Congress’ stand clear when he said that IPL matches should not be held in Rajasthan as the drought situation in the state was not different from that in Maharashtra. “Cricket matches can take place if the situation is favourable. But the drought and water crisis in the state are the same as that in Maharashtra. Therefore, IPL matches should not be held in Rajasthan,” he said.

The BJP has put itself in a spot and let the the Opposition make it an issue. The keen interest and swift action to bring the IPL matches has certainly not gone down well with the people when the state is reeling under scorching heat and an acute water shortage.
The Opposition has criticised the government that it didn’t take them too long to decide on hosting IPL matches but payments to farmers for their kharif crop damage due to bad monsoon began after six months.
Critics say the government didn’t even think about the political implications of engaging the Rajasthan Cricket Association headed by Lalit Modi.
Mr Dudi highlighted this when he said that the government did not do its homework before taking the decision of allowing IPL matches in the state because it lacks its own resources and experts.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Rajasthan has also jumped onto the IPL bandwagon. It says they will not allow IPL matches to be held at the SMS Stadium in Jaipur as IPL is a way of evading taxes and turning black money into white. They also highlighted several corruptions that hit IPL over the last few years.
AAP’s office bearer Poonam Chand Bhandari says : “IPL was conceived by Lalit Modi, who is a fugitive and is wanted in money laundering cases. It has a team of Vijay Mallya, who too fled the country and is now being sought by a consortium of banks for default payments of Rs 9,000 crore. Rajasthan Royals’ three players were in jail in the past.”

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