India: Official Suspended After Draining Dam to Retrieve Phone

    India: Official Suspended After Draining Dam to Retrieve Phone
    Last updated May 27, 2023
    Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


    • On Friday, a government food inspector in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh was suspended for ordering a reservoir to be drained to retrieve his smartphone, which he dropped into the dam on Sunday.[1]
    • More than 2M liters of water was pumped out over three days from the Kherkatta Dam after Rajesh Vishwas dropped his $1.2K device into it while taking a selfie.[2]
    • After local divers failed to retrieve his phone from 15-feet-deep water, Vishwas reportedly paid for a diesel pump and ordered it be used to empty the reservoir on Monday.[3]
    • The process of draining out water, which was enough to irrigate 600 hectares (1.5K acres) of farmland, continued until Thursday before a water resource department official stopped it. Though Vishwas' phone was retrieved, it was left unusable after three days in deep water.[4]
    • Meanwhile, Vishwas, who claimed his mobile held sensitive government data, insisted a sub-divisional officer had permitted him to drain "some water" into a nearby canal as it would "benefit the farmers."[5]
    • However, the authorities denied all his claims and suspended Vishwas over misuse of his authority as the state reeled from intense heat and a sporadic water supply.[6]


    Narrative A

    Mobile phones aren't supposed to survive being submerged underwater for a long duration, which is why it's unacceptable that an essential resource was wasted to fulfill one lunatic's demand. It doesn't matter whether he had permission; the government official draining gallons of water must face disciplinary action for misusing his position and ignoring the impact of emptying a reservoir on irrigation.

    Narrative B

    It's unfair to blame the food inspector alone for the unfortunate incident or force him to compensate for the lost water. The water pumped out was wastewater unfit for irrigation, and his efforts were directed to recover his official phone, which contained confidential government information, contacts, and data required to be safeguarded from unauthorized access.

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