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Saipan - The CNMI House of Representatives approved a bill compelling the Department of Public Lands to grant homestead permits for residents wanting to relocate to Pagan and other Northern Islands.

Saipan - The CNMI House of Representatives approved a bill compelling the Department of Public Lands to grant homestead permits for residents wanting to relocate to Pagan and other Northern Islands.

The Saipan Tribune reports that House Bill 18-109, authored by Rep. Trenton Conner, intends to grant all present pending applications for homesteads in the Northern Islands to allow them to begin construction on their homes, provided that they have the means to fulfill their duties and obligations under the law to improve upon the land.

Residents of Pagan were forced to evacuate the island when Mount Pagan first erupted in 1981. Conner said even before the volcano’s eruption, there were already Northern Island residents applying for homestead permits. He said those dated back some four decades ago.

Public Lands Secretary Pete Tenorio opposes the passage of the bill, saying it will usurp DPL’s functions by forcing DPL to disregard Article 11 of the NMI Constitution and other related homesteading laws.