Indian official suspended after emptying reservoir to recover lost phone
A government official in India has been suspended after ordering an entire reservoir to be drained so he could retrieve his phone, which he had thrown into the water while taking pictures.
Rajesh Vishwas, a food inspector, dropped his $1,200 Samsung phone in the Kherkatta Dam in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh on Sunday, according to the BBC.
Indian news agencies reported that Vishwas claimed the phone contained confidential government information and had local divers help to find it.
When the divers couldn’t find the phone, he paid for a diesel pump to be used to remove the water, Vishwas is quoted as saying to local media.
The food inspector claimed he received verbal permission from an officer to “drain some water into a nearby sewer”. He was told that the measure “would actually benefit farmers who had more water”.
For three days, the pumps ran, emptying 440,000 gallons of water — which is reportedly enough to irrigate nearly 1,500 acres of farmland.
When the phone was finally found, it wasn’t even working.
Vishwas was caught after a water resources official responded to a complaint. He was subsequently suspended from his government post.
“He has been suspended pending an investigation. Water is a vital resource and should not be wasted in this way,” Priyanka Shukla, a Kanker district official, told The National newspaper.
Vish has been denied abusing his position. The water he drained came from the overflow section of the dam and was “not in usable condition.”
The officials’ actions sparked outrage among Indian politicians.
“When people depend on tankers for their water supply in scorching summers, the official dumped 41 lakh liters that could have been used to irrigate 1,500 hectares of land,” the national vice-president of opposition party BJP tweeted.