Not Holding IPL in Maharashtra Will Meet Water Needs of Latur for 42 Minutes - Vivek Kaul's Diary
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Not Holding IPL in Maharashtra Will Meet Water Needs of Latur for 42 Minutes

Apr 13, 2016


In yesterday's column I explained why holding the Indian Premier League(IPL) T20 cricket tournament, responsible, for the water woes of Maharashtra, is wrong.

The trouble is that no one is using numbers to make an argument. Emotions are running high-and the typical argument against IPL is when there is no water in Latur, how can we waste water on cricket grounds.

But this argument looks at the issue only in absolute terms. It is estimated that the IPL will use around 6 million litres of water. This sounds a lot on its own. But it amounts to only 0.0000038% of the total water used to produce sugarcane in Maharashtra in 2013-2014 (Those looking for the calculation can take a look at yesterday's column).

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The basic problem is that Maharashtra should not be growing as much sugarcane as it is. Sugarcane is cultivated on less than four percent of the total cropped area in the state but uses 70% of its irrigation water.

Hence, all the noise around IPL being moved out of Maharashtra is essentially nonsense of the worst kind. People who feel for those who do not have water in parts of Maharashtra can do more for them by stopping to waste water in their daily lives, than agitating about this. Also, they should check for water leakages in their building.

Let's take a look at Latur in a little more detail. An India Today report points out that the daily requirement of water in Latur is 85 litres per person. As per the 2011 census, the population of the Latur district is around 24.6 lakh (2.46 million).

This means the district needs around 209.1 million litres of water every day (85 litres multiplied by 2.46 million). IPL is scheduled between April 9 and May 29, and will use six million litres of water over a period of 51 days in Maharashtra.

During the same period Latur would require 10,664 million litres of water (209.1 million litres multiplied by 51 days). How will not using six million litres of water at IPL help? If I stretch my argument, not allowing IPL in Maharashtra to happen, will essentially save water that is good enough to meet the water needs of Latur for 0.029 days (6 million litres expressed as a proportion of 209.1 million). This essentially means around 42 minutes (0.029 x 24 x 60), if I were to convert it into minutes.

So not allowing IPL in Maharashtra to happen will supply water to the people of Latur for all of 42 minutes. Of course, I am assuming that all the water that is thus saved can be moved to Latur, all at once, and no part of it is evaporated during the process.

The larger point is that there are better things that can be done to save water.

Further, why is no one talking about the huge amount of water that gets wasted everyday due to leakage as well as theft. A March 2016 report in The Times of India offers some data points. The report points out that Mumbai loses 900 million litres of water daily due to leakage and theft.

An August 2015 report in the same newspaper had put the daily leakage of water in Mumbai at 1,012.5 million litres. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation(BMC) terms this leakage as "non-revenue" water, in a classic bureaucratic way.

In this column, I will work with the former estimate of 900 million litres daily leakage, given that it is a more recent one.

I tried looking for the water leakage numbers for Pune and Nagpur where IPL matches are scheduled along with Mumbai, in the state of Maharashtra, but I couldn't find any numbers. Given that I will have to work with only the Mumbai water leakage number.

The IPL started on April 9 and is supposed to go on till May 29. Effectively, it is a tournament that will go on for 51 days. Over 51 days, 45,900 million litres of water (900 million multiplied by 51) would have been lost just in Mumbai. The total number would be higher if we had the leakage numbers for Pune and Nagpur as well. In comparison, the IPL will use only six million litres of water, over 51 days. This works out to 0.013% of the total leakage of water in Mumbai.

If only a part of the leakage could be plugged, the water needs of Latur could be easily met. Why is no one really talking about this?

I know I am exaggerating here with my calculations but this is just to show the absurdity of the issue of moving IPL out of Maharashtra in order to save water. The question that crops up here is that why are the NGOs which have filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court asking for IPL to be moved out of Maharashtra, not taking BMC to task as well?

The ultimate idea should be to stop the wastage of water and considerably huge amount of water is being wasted by leakage and municipal corporations not doing much about it. Why is this discussion not happening?

The BCCI, for once, does not appear to be in a confrontational state. An India Today TV report points out that BCCI is planning to move five matches out of Maharashtra. Of this two matches were scheduled in Pune and three matches in Nagpur.

The three matches that were scheduled to happen in Nagpur are now likely to take place in Mohali in Punjab. Like Maharashtra grows sugarcane, a fairly water-intensive crop, Punjab grows rice. Punjab is a semi-arid region and in an ideal world, rice shouldn't be grown there, because it needs a lot of water, and there is not a lot of water going around in a semi-arid region.

Like Maharashtra shouldn't be growing sugarcane, Punjab shouldn't be growing rice. Punjab uses 5,337 litres of water to grow one kilogram of rice. This is more than double that of West Bengal, which takes 2,605 litres of water to grow one kilogram of rice.

In total Punjab produced 11.1 million tonnes of rice in 2013-2014. So how many litres of water did it use in total? The total amount of water used was 59,240,700 million litres (11.1 million tonnes of rice multiplied by 5,337 litres of water per kg of rice).

Currently, four matches are scheduled at Mohali. The India Today TV report suggests that three matches from Nagpur will be moved to Mohali. This basically means that seven matches will be played in Mohali.

In the public interest litigation that has been filed in the Bombay High Court asking that IPL cricket matches should be moved out of Maharashtra, it has been said for each match three lakh litres of water are needed. As Ankita Verma, the lawyer for the petitioners told "International maintenance for pitch guidelines state that for each match you need three lakh litres [0.3 million] of water for one ground."

Hence, for seven matches in Mohali, a total of 2.1 million litres of water (0.3 million litres per match multiplied by seven matches) would be needed. This forms around 0.0000035% of water used in Punjab for growing rice.

Going back to yesterday's column, I had explained how the water to be used for IPL matches in Maharashtra was 0.000038% of the total water used for growing sugarcane. If to save such a small proportion of water, cricket matches can be moved out of Maharashtra, they should be moved out of Punjab as well. The logic is exactly the same.

I know the argument is absurd. But it needs to be made in order to show that the real issues behind the water problem in the country are not being talked about. No one is talking about sugarcane and rice paddy not being the right agricultural crops to be grown in Punjab and Maharashtra. The reason is straightforward, there are political parties which benefit from this.

Further, no one is talking about the astonishing amount of water leakage that happens on a daily basis. While, changing cropping patters is a long term solution, preventing water leakage on a war-footing is a simpler solution, and can be carried out, if the local municipalities get their way around to doing it. The only people who will lose due to this, is the water mafia.

But then this is not as sexy as criticising IPL. I am no fan of BCCI, but IPL is a soft target.

Vivek Kaul is the Editor of the Diary and The Vivek Kaul Letter. Vivek is a writer who has worked at senior positions with the Daily News and Analysis (DNA) and The Economic Times, in the past. He is the author of the Easy Money trilogy. The latest book in the trilogy Easy Money: The Greatest Ponzi Scheme Ever and How It Is Set to Destroy the Global Financial System was published in March 2015. The books were bestsellers on Amazon. His writing has also appeared in The Times of India, The Hindu, The Hindu Business Line, Business World, Business Today, India Today, Business Standard, Forbes India, Deccan Chronicle, The Asian Age, Mutual Fund Insight, Wealth Insight, Swarajya, Bangalore Mirror among others.

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14 Responses to "Not Holding IPL in Maharashtra Will Meet Water Needs of Latur for 42 Minutes"

Jayant Shetty

Apr 14, 2016

Vivekji a well written piece on the HC decision on not holding IPL matches in Maharashtra. Very convincing. The NGO's should taken on the Maharashtra Govt and filed a petition against them on the perennial water problem faced in Maharashtra over the years. Farmers are committing suicides every year. There are bigger issues for the Govt. to tackle. Why take on the IPL? The Media is the culprit and making it into a larger than life issue!! HC should also have simultaneously taken on the Maharashtra Govt and the Centre to tackle the Water situation faced over the country. Hope better sense prevails with the governing bodies!!



Apr 14, 2016

Interesting article showing a different view of where the real issue lies and what can be done to seriously tackle the problem of water shortage in Maharashtra! Thanks for sharing! Could you share this in the website which is supposed to take in citizen suggestions to improve the country?



Apr 13, 2016

Mr. Vivek Kaul, the editor of the article has elaborated with relevant statistics, the consumption of water for growing of crops and usage of water for IPL matches. No body bothers to conserve water, when it is in plenty. Even the civic authorities do not initiate immediate steps to plug the water leakage, unless being reminded repeatedly. The situation in Maharashtra is no different from other States of the country. Due to peak summer there is acute water scarcity in many parts of Maharashtra (Latur). It is reported in the media that water is transported to some of the drought prone areas through tankers / water trains. Such being the case, consumption of water for human survival is the priority rather than the IPL matches. The citizens of the State naturally endorse against using water for IPL matches, when there is acute shortage even for day to day consumption. While the editor has in his article given statistics to justify the comment in his article, I personally feel that the priority of the authorities should be primarily to provide water for human consumption and then think of entertaining IPL. I do concur with the editor that by shifting the venue to other States, usage of water for IPL remains unchanged.

Like (4)

Goutam Mukherjee

Apr 13, 2016

Great use of logic and numbers..... for political reasons, issues with potential TRP are blown out of proportion, completely disregarding the main issue!

By the way, could we get some idea about the loss of revenue from moving the IPL matches out of Maharashtra? ....and how much water could such lost revenue buy, if water could be freely bought?

Like (1)

Ilona Ghosh

Apr 13, 2016

In your calculation is the water used in the production in the sugar factories missing. Is it true that a huge amount of water is needed there? But nobody talks about it since the factories belong to polticians.

Like (1)


Apr 13, 2016

Guys are all missing the trees at this time, while finding their way in the forest. Nobody questions the long term issues of lope sided irrigation development or no development other than those that benefits the sugar mills & therefore the powerful lobbyists.

The issue is of a social call to support the many underprivileged as well as the farmers who suffer unto death ! one can do without food for a few days but not without water.

There are International precedents where cities have willfully banned wastage, including washing of cars, filling swimming pools, watering golf courses etc. How do we compare with this lobby of IPL supporters, where commercial incomes supercedes social needs of the many.

Staying focussed is the need of the hour. Not these sets of reasons that defy logic of the moment.

Like (1)

Vikram K

Apr 13, 2016

Rational arguments. Everyone is reacting emotionally. Need is to 'Do more' rather than raise slogans.

Like (1)

Prakash Warty

Apr 13, 2016

Sugarcane is not grown in the drought prone districts of Marathwada.

Like (1)

Sankara Rao Bonala

Apr 13, 2016

Hi, I am occasional reader of your columns. But, wish to be regular. I surprise to see about the calculations on water consumption to produce 1 kg. of sugar. This could be drastically wrong. You mentioned about 2100 liters of water is consumed to produce 1 kg. of sugar or 10 kg. of sugar cane based on 10% recovery. You are aware that now a days all water flow where electrical energy consumption and at this rate an yield per acre (approx. 40 MT) will need 2.1 kL X 4000 = 8200 kL will be too much.

The calculation of such water requirement could be wrong.

Like (1)


Apr 13, 2016

Sir, it would be of great help if you can similarly write on how water scarcity is caused due to consumption of Non-Veg. I am no fan of BCCI / Sugarcane, but both are soft targets when compared to Non-veg food.

Like (1)
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