A 32-year-old food inspector in Chhattisgarh’s Kanker district faced suspension on Friday after a staggering incident involving the draining of approximately 21 lakh liters of water from a reservoir adjacent to a dam. The inspector’s newly purchased Samsung S23 Ultra phone, valued at Rs 95,000, had accidentally fallen into the water.
Food inspector Rajesh Vishwas, who was stationed in the city of Pakhanjur, had gone on a picnic with his friends at Paralkot Reservoir in Pakhanjur. The reservoir receives the overflow of water from the nearby dam. While capturing a selfie, Vishwas inadvertently dropped his phone into the reservoir, which was 10 feet deep. Despite the efforts of some local villagers who were good swimmers, the phone remained elusive even after two days of searching.
Frustrated by unsuccessful attempts to locate his phone, the villagers approached Vishwas and pitched the idea of draining the water a few meters to make it easier to retrieve the device. Realizing that the phone was probably damaged and draining the water wouldn’t make a difference, Vishwas initially rejected his suggestion. However, the villagers, who shared a good relationship with him, insisted on finding a solution.
“So, I called the subdivision officer (SDO) who gave an oral clearance since there was only a few feet of water. 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,” added Vishwas.
For his part, Ram Lal Dhivar, deputy director of the Water Resources Department, said verbal permission had been given to drain the water to a depth of five feet. But he added that the level has dropped by more than 10 feet, according to India Today.
On Friday, Kanker district collector Priyank Shukla said Vishwas did not ask any competent official for permission to drain the water.
“Abusing his position, [Vishwas] wasted lakhs of litres of water during the hot season,” Shukla said. “This is unacceptable behaviour that cannot be tolerated.”
Upon receiving a complaint about the incident, collector Priyanka Shukla took swift action. The officer responsible for the water spill was suspended, acknowledging the seriousness of the situation. In addition, a justification notice was sent to the Subdivision Officer (SDO) of the Department of Water Resources, prompting a response within 24 hours.
SDO RC Dhivar of the Department of Irrigation expressed his dismay, emphasizing that such a significant amount of water was wasted due to deceptive practices. On the other hand, the food inspector Rajesh Biswas justified his actions by stating that the phone contained departmental information, thus justifying the extreme measures taken.
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