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Appeal to abandon play due to clear skies

NEW DELHI (SE): “Play abandoned due to rain” is a common enough item to hear on cricket news flashes, but the Church in drought-hit western Maharashtra state of cricket-mad India has made what may be a first in the cricket world, an appeal to abandon play due to clear skies and fine weather.

Matches in the Indian Premier League, which began on April 9, are scheduled to be played in the area, but the Church wants them shifted to another venue because water is short and it says it is not right to splash it around on cricket grounds when the people do not have enough.

Father Gyanprakash Topno, a spokesperson for the Latin-rite Bishops’ Conference of India, said that it is sad and frustrating that the government is unable to provide water—a basic necessity for human survival—to drought-affected people.

“Rather than spending so much water on an extravaganza, it should be given to those in need,” Father Topno said.

The get-superrich-quick tournament for international cricketers is scheduled to continue until May 29. Maharashtra was to host 13 of those matches, including the final in the state capital, Mumbai.

But the Bombay High Court commented in a ruling on April 13 that while shifting cricket matches alone won’t solve the problem, it can be a beginning, so that water used for maintaining the cricket grounds can be diverted to affected areas.

Its ruling has banned all matches in the area after April 30.

A voluntary organisation filed a case in the court claiming that 60 million litres of water would be needed to maintain the cricket grounds in Maharashtra alone—which could be diverted to drought-hit regions of the state.

Maharashtra is reeling under severe drought conditions. Latur town is receiving deliveries by tanker and special trains every month. The government has also barred gatherings of more than five people to prevent riots over water.

However, former Indian cricket captain, Rahul Dravid, was quoted by The Hindi as saying on April 14, “It is a serious issue and the fact that so many people are dying because of shortage of water is serious, but linking it to the Indian Premier League (IPL) will trivialise it. How can a drought be as important as cricket? If not having the IPL will solve the problem, then we should stop playing cricket.”

According to data submitted in parliament, over 3,000 farmers committed suicide in the state in 2015, due to crop failure.

India is currently experiencing a heat wave across much of the north with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius.

About 10 of the 29 states are already in the grip of severe drought, with the monsoon rains still at least two months away.

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