A government official in Chhattisgarh was suspended on Friday after he had 21 lakh litres water drained from a reservoir to recover his phone.
Rajesh Vishwas, a food inspector stationed in the Koilibeda block of the North Baster Kanker district, claimed that the water was unfit for use and said that he obtained “oral authorization” from his superior.
According to NDTV, the incident happened on Sunday while Vishwas was on a vacation at the Kherkatta Dam.
Initially, he contacted local divers in an attempt to locate his phone, but later he purchased two diesel pumps to extract the water. These pumps operated continuously for four days, resulting in the removal of 21 lakh litres of water, which is sufficient to irrigate 1,500 acres of farmland.
“Locals told me they can surely find it if the water was two-three feet shallower,” Vishwas said to NDTV. “I called the SDO [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.”
Vishwas claimed that he had to retrieve the phone as it had official departmental data stored in it.
According to India Today, Ram Lal Dhivar, the deputy officer of the Water Resources Department, acknowledged that verbal authorization had been given to pump out the water up to a depth of five feet. However, he noted that the water level had actually been reduced by over 10 feet. NDTV reported that Kanker District Collector Priyank Shukla stated on Friday that Vishwas had not obtained permission from any authorized officer to carry out the drainage of water.