An official in India has faced the consequences after making a decision to drain a reservoir with the intention of retrieving his misplaced phone.
In an unfortunate incident, Rajesh Vishwas accidentally dropped his phone into the Kherkatta Dam while taking a selfie. He dropped his Samsung phone which values at approximately $1,200 (100,000 rupees) into the Dam, in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, on Sunday.
In order to retrieve the phone, many local divers attempted to locate the phone themselves, but having failed to do so, Mr. Vishwas ordered and paid for a diesel pump to be brought in and to drain the reservoir.
He said he had verbal permission from an official to drain “some water into a nearby canal”, adding that the official said it “would in fact benefit the farmers who would have more water”.
He claimed that it contained sensitive government data and that data needed retrieving, but because of the methodology he chose, he has been accused of misusing his position.
He arranged for a pump that was used to drain millions of liters of water from the dam over the course of three days. Even after the phone was found, it had become too water-logged to work making all the effort useless.
Mr. Vishwas now faces allegations of using his authority for personal purposes, as his actions were considered inappropriate given his position.
The pump ran for several days, emptying out roughly two million liters (440,000 gallons) of water – reportedly enough to irrigate a considerable area of farmland which was approximately 6 sq km (600 hectares).
However, Mr. Vishwas’s efforts were halted when another official from the water resource department intervened following a complaint.
“He has been suspended until an inquiry. Water is an essential resource and it cannot be wasted like this,” Priyanka Shukla, a Kanker district official, told The National newspaper.
Mr. Vishwas has denied misusing his position, and said that the water he drained was from the overflow section of the dam and “not in usable condition”.
But his actions have drawn criticism from politicians, with the state’s opposition BJP party’s national vice-president tweeting: “When people are depending upon tankers for water facility in scorching summers, the officer has drained 41 lakh liters which could have been used for irrigation purpose for 1,500 acres of land.”