After a Chhattisgarh food inspector was fired for verbally requesting permission to empty water up to five feet from a reservoir, where 21 lakh litres of water had been drained to retrieve his pricey phone.
On May 26, the Sub Divisional Officer RK Dhivar received a letter from the Superintendent Engineer of the Indravati project inquiring as to why the cost of wasted water should not be deducted from his pay. The letter emphasised that during the summer, water is necessary in all reservoirs for irrigation and other uses.
While having a vacation at the Paralkot Reservoir of the Kherkatta Dam, Rajesh Vishwas, a food officer in the Koilibeda block of Kanker district, unintentionally dropped his smartphone valued Rs. 1 lakh while snapping a selfie with friends. Locals dove in to try to find it after it fell into the stilling basin of the dam’s waste weir, which had water that was 15 feet deep. When the attempt failed, the officer used two powerful 30 horsepower diesel pumps nonstop for three days to drain 21 lakh litres of water—enough to irrigate 1,500 acres of farmland—in order to get his phone back.
Even in the summer, there is water over ten feet deep in the region, and animals frequently drink from it. Local farmers also use the water through a canal.
Mr. Vishwas stated he was attempting to collect his phone because it contained official departmental data and the water was “unusable”.
“I went to the dam on Sunday with a few friends to take a bath there on my off day. My phone slipped into the overflow tankers, whose water is not usable. It was 10 feet deep. Locals tried to find it but failed. They told me they can surely find it if the water was two-three feet shallower. I called the SDO 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. That’s why I got help from locals to drain around three feet of water and got my phone back,” he had said.
Later, a representative from the department of water resources told local media that he had authorised draining water up to five feet, but much more was actually removed.