12 IPL matches have been moved out of drought-hit Maharashtra on the Bombay High Court’s directive after protests, and the BCCI is wary given the continuous water scarcity in several parts of India.
The members of the Indian Premier League’s governing council are likely to deliberate on whether the 2017 edition of the cash-rich tourney can be held abroad, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur revealed on 20 Apr 2016.
“The IPL Governing Council will be looking at the venues in India and abroad. We have to check the availability of the venues and prevailing conditions,” Thakur told during an interaction with journalists at the BCCI’s Delhi headquarters.
The IPL has been twice played outside India both being assembly election years. In 2009, the league was moved for the entire duration to South Africa, while in 2014, it was shifted to the United Arab Emirates for the first 15 days.
The various PILs and court observations and the ensuing media frenzy, in addition to being bashed by NGOs, busy bodies and the like, have all taken their toll. To the extent that the BCCI is actually considering shifting the IPL outside the country next year.
This year’s issues have been largely, but not exclusively, driven by drought and heatwave condition in Maharashtra and a couple of other states where playing the IPL in luxuriant stadiums has seemed surreal. The bone of contention has been the usage of water — a precious and scarce resource — to keep the grounds green and lush. The BCCI’s righteous indignation following court orders to shift the matches out of Maharashtra next month has been a bit rich considering that it was responsible for slotting the IPL in hot summer months despite being aware that water could be an issue in most states.
Another blot has been the failure of various cricket stadia to set up sewage treatment plants to augment supply of water for their grounds. This despite the fact that the Karnataka State Cricket Association, besides many golf courses, race courses, airports, 5-Star hotels, large apartment complexes and the like had already shown the way by resorting to STPs for their non-potable water requirements. Hopefully, the current impasse will drive all major stadia — not just cricket — to bank on STPs for their future running.
Having said that though, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur’s statement that the IPL governing council was exploring other countries to stage next year’s edition does not augur well for India’s image. The IPL is without doubt the sole success story of India hosting mega events in recent times. The scam-tainted Commonwealth Games lies at the other end of the spectrum. It scarred India’s reputation so badly that it will need many more successful IPLs to somewhat redeem it.
A BCCI-commissioned KPMG study on the economic impact of the IPL revealed that the 2015 edition contributed Rs 11.5 billion ($182 million) to India’s GDP. Sixty matches were held over 44 days in 13 venues and 12 cities across the country, featuring 193 cricketers, and attracted 1.71 million spectators to the venues. “The total economic output was estimated at Rs 26.5 billion ($418 million). This is the aggregate value of all transactions that took place as a direct, indirect or induced effect of economic activity,” it added.
In 2014, when a part of the IPL was held in UAE, the KPMG study revealed that the 15-day event resulted in an increase in economic activity to the tune of Rs 450 crore ($75m). BCCI pointed out that it was “staggering to think that the IPL generated 5 per cent of the total growth in the GDP of the UAE during that 15-day period”.
Thus, there are compelling arguments to retain the IPL in India. The greatest irony would be if during the central government’s “Make In India” drive, such a major high-profile event is shifted out of the country because of political expediency and vested interests.