Wankhede Stadium
Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai that is set to host eight matches including the final of IPL 2016 Getty

The Bombay High Court has questioned the BCCI and the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) regarding water wastage to maintain the grounds and pitches during IPL 2016, set to begin in three days. The central India state of Maharashtra has been affected by a severe drought and measures are underway to try and persuade the cricket body to shift the matches out of the state.

The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Loksatta Movement, a Mumbai-based NGO, which wanted the matches being held in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur shifted elsewhere due to the drought.

"How can you waste water like this? Are people more important or IPL? How can you be so careless. This is criminal wastage. You know the situation in Maharashtra," the court said while hearing the petition, as quoted by NDTV.com

Maharashtra state is set to host 20 matches overall during the entire tournament, with the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai hosting eight matches, including the final on 29 May. The MCA stadium in Pune will host nine matches, while the Vidharba Cricket Association stadium in Nagpur is set to host three matches. It is believed that it will take a minimum of 60 lakh litres of water to maintain the out-field and the pitches.

"The state is going through the worst kind of drought in a century and is facing acute water shortage. There is already a scarcity of drinking water and for sanitation purposes, but the state government, Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation have not raised any objection to the proposed wastage," Arshil Shah, who was arguing for the petitioner, said, as quoted by ESPNcricinfo.

BCCI, however, are reluctant to shift the matches at such a late stage, and have argued through their law firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas that they will not be using drinking water to maintain the grounds.

Rajeev Shukla, the chairman of the IPL ruled out shifting the matches, and called on all political parties to come together and find a solution to help the farmers, who are in dire straits.

"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 added, as quoted by ESPNcricinfo.

"If the water needed to irrigate two or three grounds were to solve the problem of Maharashtra's farmers, then I can't understand that. I don't think this [saving water by shifting matches] would serve any purpose. 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."