Government official drains a dam to get his phone back

Reports say 2 million litres of water drained from Chhattisgarh reservoir (Annu Kaushik/Twitter)
Reports say 2 million litres of water drained from Chhattisgarh reservoir (Annu Kaushik/Twitter)

A government official in India was suspended after he pumped out 2 million litres of water from a reservoir to retrieve his phone.

Food inspector Rajesh Vishwas dropped his phone in Kherkatta dam in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh while taking a selfie on his holiday.

Local divers had jumped in to find his phone worth Rs 100,000 (£981), which he claimed contained sensitive government data. But after efforts to retrieve his phone from 15ft deep water failed, Mr Vishwas paid for a diesel pump to be used to empty the reservoir.

The pump started draining water on Monday evening and continued to run for the next three days, till it drained out 2 million litres of water – enough to irrigate 600 hectares of land, reported NDTV.

He stopped after an official from the irrigation and water resource department visited the site. While his phone was retrieved, it was unusable, reported the BBC.

While Mr Vishwas said he had verbal permission to drain “some water” from the dam, a district official said he did not have formal consent to go ahead with it.

Defending the move, Mr Vishwas said farmers would “benefit” from more water.

“Locals told me they can surely find it if the water was two-three feet shallower,” Mr Vishwas was quoted as saying by NDTV. “I called the [Sub Divisional Officer] and requested him to allow me to drain some water into the nearby canal if there was no problem in doing so. He said it was not an issue if three-four feet deep water was drained, and would in fact benefit the farmers who would have more water.”

Later on Friday, Kanker district’s magistrate Priyanka Shukla said Mr Vishwas was suspended for abuse of his position.

“Misusing his position, he [Vishwas] wasted lakhs of litres of water during the season of intense heat,” Shukla said. “This is an unacceptable behaviour that cannot be condoned.”