A Chhattisgarh government official has been fined Rs 53,000 after he pumped out 21 lakh litres of water from a reservoir to recover his phone, reported The Times of India on Wednesday.

After the incident on May 21, Rajesh Vishwas, a food inspector in Koilibeda block of the North Baster Kanker district, was suspended from his post on May 26. Now, Vishwas has been ordered to pay the fine in 10 days.

Superintendent engineer of the Indravati project – under which the reservoir functioned – had written last week to the Sub Divisional Officer RK Dhivar, asking why the cost of wasted water should not be recovered from Vishwas, reported NDTV. The letter stated that the water was meant for irrigation and other purposes during the summer.

“Since the officer has drained lakhs of litres of water using diesel pump from the weir without official permission, in order to search his mobile phone, it is illegal and is a violation of Chhattisgarh Irrigation Act,” an official of the state Water Resource Department said in a letter to Vishwas, while imposing the fine.

The pumps ran continuously for four days and emptied out 21 lakh litres of water – enough to irrigate 1,500 acres of farmland.

After the May 21 incident, Vishwas, who was on a vacation at the time, had claimed that the the water was unusable and that he got “verbal permission” from his senior. The suspended official had also said that he had to retrieve the phone as it had official departmental data stored in it.

Kanker District Collector Priyank Shukla had said that Vishwas had not sought permission from any competent officer to drain the water.