The senior officer has been fined Rs 53,000 for ordering the draining of the dam.
Days after a Chhattisgarh food inspector was suspended for having 42 lakh litres of water drained from a reservoir to recover his expensive phone, the government pulled up his senior, who he said gave him verbal permission to empty water up to five feet. The senior officer has been fined Rs 53,000 for ordering the draining of the dam.
The Superintendent Engineer of the Indravati project wrote to the Sub Divisional Officer RK Dhivar on May 26, asking why the cost of wasted water should not be recovered from his salary. The letter pointed out that water is required in all reservoirs for irrigation and other purposes during summer.
Rajesh Vishwas, a food officer in Koilibeda block of Kanker district, was enjoying a holiday at the Paralkot Reservoir of Kherkatta Dam when he accidentally dropped his smartphone worth around Rs 1 lakh while taking a selfie with friends. It fell into the stilling basin of the dam's waste weir, which had 15 feet deep water, and locals dived in to try and find it. When the effort failed, the officer got two big 30 hp diesel pumps running continuously for four days and emptied out 42 lakh litres of water, enough to irrigate 1,500 acres of farmland, to retrieve his phone.
The area has over 10 feet-deep water even during summers, and animals often drink from it. The water, through a canal, is also used by local farmers.
Mr Vishwas claimed he was trying to retrieve his phone as it had 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.
The water resources department official later told local journalists that he had okayed draining water up to five feet, but a lot more was taken out.