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We are entering the closing week towards IPL finals. Most of the matches have gone to the wires. Some scintillating performances by many of the younger talents has filled our hearts. We have acclaimed and applauded many of them for their best catches, maximum sixers, fabulous shots and player of the day. All for the cricketeer’s efforts.  We blame many bad pitches being slow and also are happy with fast scoring pitches. We also find fault with unplayable pitches. The groundsman or curator get brickbats and bouquets. Tailor made pitches for spin or seam also attract attention and criticism depending on team’s ability to respond to the same.

Let us spend some time on the efforts for the same. Very recently Mumbai IPL team had to shift its base as there was no water for its home-based stadium for watering and keep the condition of the field and outfield in good playable condition. When the state is affected by drought and water is sent to drought affected locations in water tanker trains, one can quite understand the decision of the state government to stop overusing water for cricket fields when others are waiting to quench thirst. Is it man made? Partly yes. Our cities have not taken care of all waste water [sewage and sullage – over 80 % of all water supplied] going down the drain or ground. Singapore does 100 % recycling of all its waste water and create NeWater [they don’t call it recycled water]. Indian cities have a very poor record. In spite of Bellandur lake going aflame, Bengaluru should be credited with the first city level waste water recycling plant for 16 mgd of the 40 mgd waste water generated. Part use of the same goes for industrial, commercial, firefighting, landscaping and other uses. Chinese cities recycle 65 % of waste water. We don’t need the same quality of water for drinking, cooking, bathing, flushing, gardening, washing cars, buffaloes etc.  But that is exactly what we do. Nearly 35 to 45 % of fresh treated water can be saved with integrated water management policies with demand and supply side interventions like use of low flow fixtures, rain water harvesting, acquifer recharging, waste water recycling and reuse for various uses including flushing water and non-potable use.  Mumbai cricket fields and other fields would not have gone dry if only the city had a good plan for recycling 80 % of all its waste water instead of polluting the river, lake, sea.

In IPL mood millions of faces are lit and enjoy the matches played mostly at nights, guzzling enormous amount of energy for the lighting needs of right illumination levels. Credit should go to efforts of some of the cricket stadiums in India having provided photo-voltaic solar PVC lighting facilities, generating power every day with the grace of Surya Bhagwan, an ever-renewable energy source and not depending on fossil fuel based energy systems- reducing carbon foot prints and also least polluting. The Nedumbasserry [Kochi] airport has all its 12 MW power needs from solar energy and become net positive to give some extra power to grid. What a way!

The first pre-monsoon rains bathed Mumbai yesterday. There are signals that this year we will have above normal monsoons for the whole country. What better hope can the country get. Good rains benefit all. Good agriculture, good drinking water, power generation and all socio- economic activities get charged up. But if not managed well, it can create problems as well. Most of our cities are badly planned, designed and built blocking the natural hydraulic paths for drainage due to misguided “Development” for real estate. A few hours or days of continuous rains make our cities full flooded and bring the whole life to a grinding halt. Be it Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon, Ahmedabad etc.  If only we had respected the natural contours and flow paths and put lesser loads onto the drains and ensure these are clear and not blocked by dumping of wastes and plastics etc and choking, things would have been better. That is another area that needs more critical attention. Otherwise surgical efforts are needed to get the cities back on life.

With good rains expected, there is an overall feel good factor around and the sensex also smiles and has gone up with that good monsoon signal.

Cricket grounds are equally not spared. Play washed off is the message most of the times due to outfield still wet and slushy.  Let us look at world stadiums and pitches. Even with torrential rains for hours, there are cricket pitches which will drain off in few minutes and become bone dry. The underbelly of the pitches has intricate drainage network systems and water absorbing soil media. We also lost two IPL matches due to rains in recent years.

With crores of money earned from IPL, the least we should expect is to plough back some of the returns to improvise all our cricket grounds and facilities with the best possible sustainable development solutions. Not only cricket grounds but also other sports infrastructure facilities

So, we have come a full circle. With drought on one side and heavy rains on the other. How we manage in both critical situations is what matters and we are reckoned as developed country for all our right interventions, respecting nature and use all its resources of land, water and energy [prithvi, jal and agni] needs, through sustainable options.


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