The Indian Premier League is in strife for wasting water in the middle of a severe drought zone.

The Indian cricket board has been labelled as "criminal" by a Bombay high court for continuing to water its grounds in the western state of Maharashtra. There are 20 matches set to be played in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur this month and next. Pune and Nagpur are in a region which has suffered consecutive droughts.

The super-rich IPL starts this week, in the wake of the highly successful T20 world championships which ended with the West Indies' astounding win over England in the final. The court is hearing a petition on drought conditions filed by a non-government activist group.

The BBC reported that an estimated six million litres of water will be needed for the pitches and grounds in the three drought-affected cities.


"How can you waste water like this? Are people more important or IPL? How can you be so careless," a judge was quoted as saying by the NDTV news channel.

"This is criminal wastage. You know the situation in Maharashtra."

Cricket uses water not fit for drinking but opponents say villages in Maharashtra need non-potable water for things like sanitation.

IPL chairman and MP Rajiv Shukla said the games would go ahead.

"We are with the farmers of Maharashtra, we are ready to help in all possible ways. If the Maharashtra Government brings a proposal, then all of us will think in what way we can help the farmers," he said.

Millions of farmers are facing drought and crop failures, and more than 3200 are said to have committed suicide last year.