Authorities have suspended Rajesh Vishwas, a government official in India, for having emptied a whole dam to find his phone that fell in it, amid social media outrage from all over the world’s most populous country, BBC reported Saturday.
When his $1,200 phone dropped into the Kherkatta Dam, in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, while taking a casual selfie, Vishwas, after verbal approval from a senior, ordered the draining of the reservoir to retrieve it without considering the implications of his action.
The process of pumping millions of litres of water out of the dam took three days, but unfortunately, the phone was found, but it was too waterlogged to function.
Vishwas justified his actions by claiming that the phone contained sensitive government data that must be recovered. However, he faces accusations of misusing his position as a government official.
Initially, local divers were unable to locate the phone, prompting Vishwas to hire a diesel pump to drain water from the dam.
He claimed to have received verbal permission from an official to divert some water into a nearby canal, with the understanding that it would benefit local farmers by providing them with additional water.
Over the course of several days, approximately two million litres (440,000 gallons) of water were emptied from the dam, reportedly enough to irrigate an area of 6 square kilometres (600 hectares) of farmland.
Vishwas’s actions were halted when another official from the water resource department arrived in response to a complaint. Following the incident, he was suspended pending an inquiry.
Priyanka Shukla, a Kanker district official, emphasised the importance of water as an essential resource and expressed concern over its wastage.
Vishwas has denied misusing his position and stated that the drained water was from the dam’s overflow section and it was not suitable for use.
However, his actions have garnered criticism from politicians, including a tweet from the national vice president of the opposition BJP party in the state.
The tweet highlighted the issue of water scarcity during the scorching summer months and criticised the officer for draining 4.1 million litres of water that could have been used for irrigation purposes covering 1,500 acres of land.