The Indian Premier League, now among the world’s richest and largest sports leagues, has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to an area where it has a major impact. The Environment.
While the IPL, due to its sheer size, spread and impact, has a massive carbon footprint, clearly, the environment has yet to become a key measure for the league organisers, the BCCI yet. Which is a bit strange, considering the league’s run-ins and move out of Mumbai in 2017 due to the drought in Maharashtra at the time. The high court had been urged to consider the ‘wastage’ of water on the watering of the pitches for cricket, at a time of acute water scarcity.
This year, with 60 matches being played across 10 cities, involving 8 teams criss-crossing the venues along with their entourage and supporters, the league is again at par with a large political campaign, if not more. And frankly, it’s about time they did more to address this issue of apathy to the environment.
To give credit, some teams have made efforts to look more eco-friendly. Leading the way has been KKR, one of the higher valued teams, which has its owner, Ms Juhi Chawla overseeing its environmental initiatives. At the launch of an exhibit made entirely of recycled waste at the franchise’s ‘home’ ground, Eden gardens, she said “Our aim is to reduce waste as much as possible and continuing with our efforts from last year, this year we have enlisted the help of our sponsors by banning the use of plastic cheer items in the stadium. Efforts are being made to reduce usage of plastic bags as well which have been replaced by cloth bags during the matches. With the help of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), an Organic Waste Converter (OWC) provided by Reddonatura, one of the foremost players in the area of integrated waste management and food waste solutions has been installed at Eden Gardens for the duration of the IPL matches” This OWC’s work has been audited with a claim that almost 1900 kgs of waste was eventually recycled using it.
The Franchise also had the ‘Plant a six’ initiative since last year, where they planted a tree for every six hit at the Eden gardens in 2017. 75 trees were eventually planted with the help of school kids, in Kolkata’s Nalban park area.
Meanwhile, fresh from its win as the cleanest city in India, and the ‘home’ of the King’s XI franchise, Indore has decided to implement the ‘green protocol’ for all its matches. That would entail following the concept of 3R (Reduce, Recycle and Reuse). The 11-point declaration of the 8th Regional 3R Forum for Asia Pacific, which was passed on April 11 in Indore, will be in place of all four matches of IPL to be played there. A Green Protocol of 72 points has been prepared further to reduce, reuse and recycle of garbage including plastic items in the city’s Holkar stadium, which hosts the matches” city collector Nishant Warwade said.
The BCCI too has entered into a partnership with the UNEP to implement the 3R’s across cricketing venues besides the IPL< over a three year period.
But more needs, and can be done using the massive platform the IPL offers. It is possibly too much to expect the league to ban junk food advertising perhaps, or even advertising from firms that have a massively negative carbon footprint. But with franchise owners as varied as a cement firm (CSK), to an airport operator (DD), to media owners(SRH), leading fossil fuel and plastics manufacturers(MI) and even an alcoholic beverages firm (RCB), it is certainly not unreasonable to expect more from these teams, and the league itself.
As a league powered by the young, it has been remarkably stingy in making the environment story its own, and looking to make even a fraction of the difference to the environment that it has made to the lives of its players and participants. That is a very poor investment into the present and future indeed. One wonders just what it would take to make things change.