damage control: The Tokyo District Court awarded US $458 in damages to a municipal employee over passive smoking he suffered at his workplace. This is the first such ruling in Japan. The court said the government of Edogawa Ward, one of the 23 wards that form the central Tokyo metropolis, failed to take sufficient safety precautions for the man, who had demanded around US $2,731 in damages. Presiding Judge Akio Doi said, "The ward government which oversees workplace facilities has an obligation to see to it that protection is provided for the life and health of the plaintiff from passive smoking." The claimant got the job with the Edogawa municipal government in April 1995, where smoking is permitted. He complained of respiratory problems and pains in the neck and shoulders, saying it was due to passive smoking. He eventually requested his supervisor that measures be taken to designate smoking areas. The ward government responded by installing ventilators at the workplace, but failed to take measures such as creating a smoking area or relocating his desk, the ruling said.
Clean-up act: The High Court of Madras has directed the State government to begin within two weeks the initial work for desilting the Orathupalayam dam in Erode district. A division bench comprising Justice V S Sirpurkar and Justice A K Rajan gave the direction while passing interim orders on the writ petitions from K K Subramanian, Lakshmi and S Selvakumar asking concerned authorities to clean the Noyyal river. They had also demanded that the river water stored at Orathupalayam dam be cleaned. They had offered to complete the task within a stipulated time with their own funds and then get the same reimbursed from the bleaching and dyeing units in Tiruppur area.
Four dyeing and bleaching units offered to pay for the desilting work. The bench directed the state government to start the preliminary work and to file a report on this aspect on July 27.
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