IPL, a highly successful brand name, has been highly controversial too – with its fair share of fixing and betting controversies and ‘spill over’ dozes of glamour and entertainment. While sitting in a stadium during an IPL game, what you come across is deafening music and silly commentary that simply dilutes the thrill of cricket.
Anyway, I am not going to look into highs and lows of IPL here.
It is about the ‘IPL drought’ controversy here – IPL drought because by continued insistence on holding the IPL matches in Maharashtra (20 in all – at Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur grounds) – and thus wasting some 60 to 65 lakh litres of water water (some estimates say 70 lakh) – when the Maharashtra state government is failing to ensure even an abysmally low supply of 20 litres a day to the families in the drought affected districts – contributing thus to the misery of people already afflicted with the one of the worst drought seasons the state is witnessing – BCCI, the body governing cricket in India, is earning a bad name.
Do a simple calculation to see if it can be an eye opener for you.
The Maharashtra government has decided to supply 20 litres of water every day to each household in Latur, one of the worst drought-affected districts of the Marathwada region of Maharashtra that is facing the worst drought in 100 years. But the problem is, even this supply is so erratic, once in a week or 10 days.
The 65 lakh litres of water used (wasted) by the IPL management to keep the cricket pitches up and ready for the 20 IPL games to be played in Maharashtra can supply 20 litres water to 325,000 families. To say, to argue, it is nothing, not even a day’s water supply to all families in a district like Latur with around 2.5 million people.
But, there is this big ‘but’ – with the social horror spreading in Maharashtra with thousands of farm suicides – and when the Maharashtra State Water Policy puts usage of water of purposes like IPL last in its priority list.
When some 2500 water tankers are needed in the region, the government can provide barely 100-200. The rest are privately operated. The region’s water reservoirs have water level below 5% – somewhere it is as low as 1%. There is no water for sowing. People are not able to take bath for days. Basic water needs like sanitation have become a luxury.
People are dying, they are committing suicide. According to a data-set, Maharashtra saw over 3200 farm suicides last year, while Taliban killed 3400 in the same period.
When seen in the context of all these, this use (or misuse) 65 lakh litres of water, that the BCCI says is not potable and therefore can be wasted, becomes a criminal offence.
Branding is all about strengthening your symbolic perception in people’s psyche and it happens with variety of factors – communication, action and obligation – and BCCI is failing here on all these three parameters. Its persistence on holding the Maharashtra leg of the IPL matches will associate a socially evil tag to IPL – the worst drought in Maharashtra’s history. So far, every communication coming from the BCCI camps and cricketers have only deepened the feeling that BCCI has no obligation towards the people of this country even if it claims to be the custodian of a people’s game.