Seoul City, under fire for neglect of duty after the deaths of 18 citizens caused by landslides last week, is moving to axe officials responsible for the calamity.
According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government on Friday, it has toughened disciplinary rules against civil servants who are found negligent of duties that relate to the safety of its 10 million residents.
Under the new rules, Seoul’s civil servants, if found responsible for the landslides on Mt. Umyeon and floods throughout the city, could receive punishments from pay cuts to dismissal.
“We contemplated policies when compressed natural gas exploded on a bus last August and after this flood it was confirmed that officials in charge of disaster prevention and citizen safety need to be watched more carefully,” said an official.
Civil servants turning a blind eye to corruption, disrupting internal inspections and leaking official documents will be punishable as well, he said.
The move comes as the capital engages in a blame game with the Korea Forest Service and the Defense Ministry over who is at fault for multiple landslides that took the lives of 18 residents.
Seoul and its southern ward of Seocho, where the landslides took place, blame the forest authority for not acting responsibly to inform its officials about the possibility of landslides. They also suspect that a military base near the peak of the mountain was the main cause of the deadly mudslides.
The Seoul government also announced on Friday that households severely affected by the landslides and floods may receive property tax exemptions.
Property completely destroyed may be exempt from taxes, while those severely damaged may receive a 50 percent reduction on their property taxes. Houses with water damage from the floods will be given an extension on their property taxes as well.
The city is also increasing efforts to distribute the 16.9 billion won ($15.8 million) emergency disaster relief fund to those in need. Citizens whose residents or businesses have been affected by the floods may receive one million won after a confirmation from district or city officials.
The city will continue making medical rounds till Monday to treat those with skin ailments caused by the floods and prevent water-borne diseases.
By Robert Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)