Indian official drains reservoir to retrieve phone he dropped while taking selfie

A man crosses the dry and cracked bed of a dam in India on May 26, 2023. India is facing a severe drought and water crisis. (Photo by Ritesh Shukla/Getty Images)

A government official in India has been suspended from his job after he ordered a water reservoir to be drained so he could retrieve his smartphone, which he had dropped while taking a selfie.

Food inspector Rajesh Vishwas dropped his Samsung smartphone in Kherkatta dam in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh last week, The Times of India newspaper reported.

Vishwas first asked local divers to jump into the reservoir to find the device, claiming it contained sensitive government data. But after the initial efforts to retrieve his smartphone failed, he asked for the reservoir to be emptied using diesel pumps.

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Over the next three days, more than 2 million liters of water were pumped out from the reservoir, which is enough to irrigate at least 1,500 acres of land during India’s scorching summer, local media reported.

In videos that went viral on social media, Vishwas is seen sitting under a red umbrella as diesel pumps run to drain water from the reservoir.

Vishwas told local media the water in the reservoir was unusable for irrigation and that he had received permission from a senior official to drain it.

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The smartphone was eventually retrieved but wouldn’t even start because it was waterlogged.

Authorities later suspended Vishwas after he was widely criticized for wasting water resources.

India is one of the most water-stressed countries and extreme temperatures had led to severe water scarcity, causing crop losses, forest fires and cuts to power.