IPL Maharashtra matches 'should be shifted because of drought'

Kolkata Knight Riders cricketer Sunil Narine (R) celebrates as teammate Brendon McCullum dives to take a catch of unseen Mumbai Indians batsman Rohit Sharma during the IPL Twenty20 cricket match between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders at The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on May 16, 2012. Image copyright AFP
Image caption This year's IPL edition begins in Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium on Saturday

A court in India has recommended the shifting of Indian Premier League games from the western state of Maharashtra to save water, as parts of the state are suffering from severe drought.

Some 20 IPL Twenty20 games are scheduled in the cities of Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur in April and May.

Pune and Nagpur are located in a region which has suffered two consecutive droughts.

The IPL is the richest of the world's Twenty20 cricket leagues.

Top Indian and international players take part in the tournament each spring.

Eight teams will participate in this year's tournament, scheduled to begin in Mumbai, Maharashtra's capital, on Saturday.

Judges of the Bombay High Court said on Wednesday that a lot of water was required to prepare the pitches for the tournament.

'Criminal wastage'

One report estimates that six million litres of water is needed for the upkeep of the pitches and the ground in the three cities.

"How can you waste water like this? Are people more important or IPL? How can you be so careless," a judge was quoted as saying by the NDTV news channel.

"This is criminal wastage. You know the situation in Maharashtra."

The court is hearing a petition on drought conditions in the state.

Image copyright Mansi Thapliyal
Image caption Parts of Maharashtra are facing drought like conditions

IPL chairman and MP Rajiv Shukla said on Tuesday that the games would go on as scheduled.

"As far as the question of drought, water is concerned, we are with the farmers of Maharashtra, we are ready to help in all possible ways. If the Maharashtra Government brings a proposal, then all of us will think in what way we can help the farmers," he told reporters.

He said he would be using his MP funds to "personally adopt" some drought-affected villages.

Two successive poor monsoons have led to millions of farmers in the region facing drought conditions and crop failures.

Last year, as many as 3,228 farmers in Maharashtra took their lives, the highest in the last 14 years, a government minister informed the parliament recently.

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