June 12, 2008 / 4:09 PM / in 10 years

Manhole memo prompts Mumbai municipal mutterings

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Mumbai city officials are upset by an American warning about the risks of falling into manholes in India’s commercial capital during the monsoon season.

An item posted on the U.S. consulate website said that municipal workers in Mumbai sometimes open manhole covers at times of heavy flooding and then leave them unattended and unmarked.

“It’s possible that you could inadvertently step into an open manhole,” said the warning, issued after the monsoon rains arrived at the weekend.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation rejected the statement, and said it had e-mailed the U.S. consulate on Wednesday stating it had cast the city in a bad light.

Jairaj Phatak, the municipal commissioner, estimates that 10 people or fewer have died in such a manner in recent years.

Elizabeth Kauffman, a spokeswoman for the consulate, said they did not mean to hurt anyone’s feelings. The consulate has since added a single sentence to its online advisory, saying open manholes are sometimes marked with tree branches.

Editing by Bappa Majumdar

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