Guys, IPL Has Nothing to Do With the Maharashtra Drought

Would reclaiming the 60 lakh litres of water used for IPL make a dent in Maharashtra’s drought problem?

2 min read
A woman walks through Khomnal Village pond at Mangalwheda taluk, Solapur district in Maharashtra. (Photo Courtesy: Subrata Biswas/Greenpeace)

The Bombay High Court is considering shifting all Indian Premier League games out of Maharashtra – but the water crisis in the state is much worse than the 60 lakh litres of water the cricket pitches will need throughout the tournament.

For more than two years, Maharashtran farmers have faced below average rainfall. In 2015, rainfall was 40 percent short, and the year before, 30 percent short.

Though the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Maharashtra government spent around Rs 1,400 crore on making the state drought free in 2015, the funds have not reached those most in need, an investigation by IndiaSpend found.

Many farmers in rural areas are not equipped to deal with drought conditions. Even in cases where farmers have the infrastructure to capture rain and conserve water, rainfall is so low that wells dry up.

Maharashtra is facing a major drought. (Photo Courtesy: Subrata Biswas/Greenpeace)
Maharashtra is facing a major drought. (Photo Courtesy: Subrata Biswas/Greenpeace)

Giving back the 60 lakh litres of water that would otherwise be used in stadiums could provide a temporary solution, but it will not address the long-term factors driving the drought.

Climate change in the last decades has reduced rainfall and made the monsoon more erratic, a study from The Energy and Resources Institute found. Climate change is expected to bring more rainfall to Maharashtra in the coming decades, but this rainfall will be less reliable. Extreme weather events, such as the drought, will be worse than ever before, the study added.

El Niño, a phenomenon triggered by the release of heat from the Pacific Ocean, has further compounded the issue. The phenomenon began last year and has changed weather patterns worldwide. Experts say the weak monsoon in 2015 and the 2009 drought before that were linked to El Niño.

The first IPL game will still be held in Mumbai. (Photo: Reuters)
The first IPL game will still be held in Mumbai. (Photo: Reuters)

Holding the 20 IPL games in a state that has been water-starved for years has been controversial. In hearings conducted ahead of the tournament, the Bombay High Court criticised the Board of Control for Cricket in India for its intensive water usage.

It is a question of priority - a game or people... Are you going to maintain gardens and stadiums when people are dying? Is this what you are saying? People don’t get water in Marathwada for three to four days. [IPL] is a criminal waste.
Bombay High Court

Still, the court decided today to allow the first IPL game to take place in Mumbai. Games will begin on 9 April.

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