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Serlui-B Hydropower Project, Mizoram, India


Serlui-B Hydropower Project is the largest hydro plant in Mizoram. The site is near Bilkhawthlir Village in Kolasib district. The DPR was approved in Feb 1999 and a turnkey contract was awarded to BHEL and Mecon in Dec 2003. Serlui-B has a 293m long, 51m high earthfill dam a 415m headrace tunnel, a 135m pressure tunnel, and a semi-underground powerhouse. The project cost Rs 191cr [1] Construction began in 1998 but it was halted in 2004 because of 'unfavourable geological conditions at the dam site, technical reasons, high compensation for crops and law and order situation'. In 2011, the project cost was revised to Rs 913.23 crore, almost triple its original estimate of Rs 369 [2] Nearly 5,100 villagers of Ratu, Mawchar, Saipum, Palsang, N. Khawdungsei, Serzawl, Lungmuat, Bukpui, Saiphai, Hlimen, Darlawn, Khawruhlian, N Chaltlang, Nisapui and Thingtherh will be affected by the dam [2]. The Hydel Project submerged Builum village and the affected villagers were rehabilitated on a new site Bawktlang near Kolasib [4] The Serlui B project has the dubious distinction of creating the state's first 'dam refugees' who are still fighting for proper rehabilitation and in case of Tuirial project, the people and experts are questioning its legality as no public hearing was ever held. Experts said the affected villagers of Tuirial could move court [2].

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Serlui-B Hydropower Project, Mizoram, India
State or province:Mizoram
Location of conflict:Village - Bilkhawthlir; District- Kolasib
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict: 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Dams and water distribution conflicts
Water access rights and entitlements
Specific commodities:

Project Details and Actors

Project details:

Serlui B is located about 12 kilometres from Bilkhawthlir, a small village on the NH-54. The Hydel Project has three units, each with a capacity to generate 4 MW of power and the estimated cost of completion is expected to be about Rs. 191 crores. As of now about 95 percent of the work has been completed and about 174 crores have been spent so far. The Dam of the Hydel Project is called an ‘earthen dam’ since earth is used for the dam unlike other hydel projects in Mizoram. The dam is 51.3 metres high from the river bed, 293 metres long, 8 metres narrow at the top and 394.2 metres wide at the bottom.

The 12 MW power hence added will be a boon for the power starved state whose power requirement is about 107 MW, out of which 77 MW and 52 MW are the deficits at the highest and lowest respectively. The cost per unit has been estimated at about Rs. 3.69 per unit. On the 12th of Dec 2003, the Government of Mizoram, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and Metallurgical Electrical Consultant India Ltd. (MECON) signed agreements for the construction. Major components of the works were awarded to BHEL-MECON Consortium on turnkey basis and the work commenced in November 2004. Project is a State Sector Project; all the power produced will be utilized by Mizoram, unlike Centrally funded power projects where the States’ share are just a meagre 12 percent [4]

Level of Investment:147,446,500
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:6000
Start of the conflict:1998
Company names or state enterprises:North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Ltd (Neepco) from India
Mizoram Power & Electricity Dept from India
Bahrat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) from India
Patel Engineering from India
Aarti Infra-Projects from India
Mecon from India
Relevant government actors:Government of Mizoram, Ministry of Environment and Forest
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Environment Support Group, Society for Social Action(SOSA), Sinlung People’s Collective (SPC), Sinlung People’s Human Rights Organisation

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Institutional changes
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Negotiated alternative solution
New legislation
Under negotiation
Development of alternatives:According to the village council they will fight against the dam. He said they were trying to form a joint platform of village councils to take up the people’s issues, but were unable to organise anything yet [2].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:1. Although there was a tripartite multi-disciplinary committee for Tuirial project was notified to 'oversee effective implementation of suggested safeguards measures,' on ecology, forestry, and wildlife. But nothing is mentioned about safeguards for people against the impact of the dam.
2.The project received environment clearance in 1995 and experts questioned if it was still valid [2].
3.According to Environment Support Group, a premier lawyers' group on environmental law in India, the validity of an environment clearance expires in five years if the project does not continue.
4.Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) charges nine persons, including relatives of former chief minister a and officials recently for their role in a compensation scam. The scam was unearthed after a PIL was filed by anti-corruption watchdog SOSA (Society for Social Action). Gauhati High Court in April 2010 ordered a probe into the scam. The CBI investigation revealed that compensation was paid to fictitious landowners [2].
5. The villagers alleged that irregularities in the assessment of compensation claims which was because the officials made the assessment without visiting the site. [5]

Sources and Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act

Forest Rights Act

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] Mizo Villagers Flees as Dam Poses Threat

[2]. Hydel projects ignore eco safeguard norms

[3] Protest against hydro projects in Mizoram

[4] Serlui B : A Milestone in the Power Sector

[5] Row over Serlui hydel project in Mizoram

[6] Serlui B power project nears completion

[5]Mizoram Anti Dam Protest in Aizawl

Meta information

Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra
Last update08/04/2014