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Indian official drains dam to retrieve fallen phone

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Indian official drains dam to retrieve fallen phone

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An Indian government official, Rajesh Vishwas, was suspended after he ordered a reservoir to be drained to retrieve his phone, the BBC reported on Saturday.

The food inspector’s Samsung phone, worth about $1,200 (100,000 rupees), plunged into Kherkatta Dam, in Chhattisgarh, on Sunday as he was taking a selfie.

Consequently, it took three days to pump millions of litres of water out of the dam. When found, the phone was too water-logged to work.

Vishwas alleged that the device contained sensitive government data, and thus needed retrieving. However, he has been accused of exploiting his position.

After local divers failed to find it, the official paid for a diesel pump to be brought in, Vishwas detailed in a video statement quoted by Indian media.

He claimed he had received 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".

The pump ran for several days, emptying out roughly two million litres of water – reportedly enough to irrigate 6 sq km of farmland.

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The process was halted after an official from the water resource department arrived following a complaint.

"He has been suspended until an inquiry. Water is an essential resource and it cannot be wasted like this," Kanker district official Priyanka Shukla told an Indian newspaper.

Meanwhile, Vishwas denied misusing his position, maintaining that the drained water was from the overflow section of the dam and "not in usable condition".

However, his act drew 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 litres which could have been used for irrigation purpose for 1,500 acres of land."

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