Indian Official Drains Entire Reservoir to Recover Phone Dropped in Water

A Government official in India has been suspended after reportedly ordering an entire water reservoir to be drained just so he could recover the smartphone he had accidentally dropped into it.

Rajesh Vishwas, a 32-year-old food inspector in Chhattisgarh’s Kanker district, has become the talk of Indian social media because of his involvement in an incident that highlighted the ignorance of government officials in the face of serious environmental issues, like water shortage. Vishwas allegedly abused his power to have roughly two million liters of water from a reservoir in the city of Pakhanjur just so he could recover the brand-new Samsung Galaxy S23 smartphone he had accidentally dropped into the water. The water drained into a nearby canal was reportedly enough to irrigate 6 square kilometers (600 hectares) of farmland.

Photo: Sujitabh Chadhaury/Unsplash

The young food inspector reportedly went on a picnic with his friends at Paralkot Reservoir in Pakhanjur earlier this month. The reservoir receives the overflow of water from a nearby dam, and when Vishwas tried to take a selfie with the rushing water in the background, he inadvertently dropped his new phone in the reservoir. Some local swimmers were brought in to look for the official’s phone, but after two days of searching, they came up empty-handed.

Vishwas insists that it was the locals who suggested that he drain some of the water from the reservoir to make searching for the dropped phone easier, and even though he allegedly declined at first, he eventually gave in to the pressure and decided to call the subdivision officer (SDO) and ask for permission to drain the reservoir.

“So, I called the subdivision officer who gave an oral clearance since there was only a few feet of water,” Rajesh Vishwas said in a statement. “On Tuesday night, I rented a diesel pump for Rs 7,500 and drew about three feet of water from the 10-foot-deep reservoir over a two-day period. I don’t know how much water it was, but you can ask the villagers, the water is used only for bathing by those who come here for a picnic and not for irrigation or other purposes. The media has exaggerated the news.”


Ram Lal Dhivar, deputy director of the Water Resources Department, admitted that verbal permission for the draining of the reservoir had indeed been given, but he added that the water level had dropped by more than 10 feet. It didn’t take long for the story to spill, and before long Rajesh Vishwas was in hot water.

“Abusing his position, Vishwas wasted lakhs of liters of water during the hot season. This is unacceptable behavior that cannot be tolerated,” Kanker district collector Priyank Shukla said. The Department of Irrigation also expressed its dismay that such a significant amount of water was wasted for such a trivial reason.

“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,” the state’s opposition BJP party’s national vice-president tweeted.


In the face of all this criticism, Rajesh Vishwas defended his decision to have an entire water reservoir drained by claiming that his brand-new Galaxy S23 smartphone contained important departmental information.

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