Genr2, a company constructing a widely-contested HPP in Dragobi, Valbona presented a document in the Tirana Administrative Court of Appeal on Friday which they claim shows local support for the under-construction HPP.
The document talks about the provision of internet service in the area that will be paid for by Genr2. The problem is that the residents whose names appear on the document say they were duped.
Last year around 11 May, residents of Valbona and Rrogam were asked if they would like to contribute their name and IDs to a request to the Municipality, asking them to install an internet connection in Valbona. Those that did so, had no idea that it would be paid for or be linked to Genr2.
This document, bearing the names of people who thought they were petitioning the Municipality, is now being used by a private company to allegedly show support for HPPs and Genr2.
Residents claim that their names are being used illegally and without consent on a letter that they have never seen. This notarized letter does not include signatures, rather just their names and ID numbers.
Furthermore, the names on the list are not residents of Dragobi, the area where the HPP will be built. They are residents of Valbona and Rrogam. For example, a quick Google search reveals that Kol Jubani lives in Rrogam, Hajredi Selimaj lives in Valbona, Imer Selimaj lives in Valbona, Izet Selimaj lives in Valbona, etc
Skender Selimaj, an individual whose name appears on the letter spoke to Exit and explained that he had been asked to send a copy of his ID card to be included in a petition to the Municipality to request the internet connection.
“I was a bit suspicious at first, I asked my cousin to confirm that these people asking for ID cards were really from the Municipality,” he said.
“He assured me that they were so I sent him my ID card. We didn’t hear anything until recently when we were told Genr2 were submitting a document to the court, with our names on, claiming that we support them.”
When asked if they support HPPs and the companies involved, Selimaj said:
“Absolutely not- we would never ask these companies for anything, we are fed up with them. We were not notified that this had anything to do with Genr2. We want them away from Valbona.”
He added that most of the signatures on the list are those that oppose hydropower plants.
“I felt very bad when I found out how they were using our names,” he added, “they are our enemy.”
Catherine Bohne, activist, and resident said that this isn’t the first time there have been issues with signatures on letters alleging support for the HPPs.
In 2014, she alleged that documents relating to the public consultation included the names of people who were deceased, those who didn’t attend the meeting, non-residents, people living in the diaspora, and employees of a construction firm linked to Genr2.
The matter ended up in the court of Shkodra where she said that they ruled that just because the names of deceased people appeared on the documents, didn’t mean the meeting wasn’t valid.
Exit consulted a legal opinion on this matter and was advised that at the very least, it could be grounds for a complaint of falsification of documents. It also raises questions of how Genr2 was able to get hold of the names and ID numbers of citizens that were given to the Municipality.