LAND REVENUE ADMINISTRATION.
Early History—The zamindars—Their administration— The havili land—Committee of Circuit, 1785-87 — Settlement with the zamindars in 1789—Abolition of the Chiefs and Councils, 1794— Collectors of the havili land. The Permanent Settlement, 1802-03—Its failure—Its effect on the ryots—Special Commissioner appointed, 1843. Ryotwari Settlements—Before 1865—Settlement of 1865-66—Its scope—Grouping of villages—Classification of soils— Standard crops, grain outturns, commutation prices—Cultivation expenses and money rates—Financial results—Water-rate in the delta—The existing settlement; its scope—Reclassification of delta soils —Water-rate problems—Settlement of wild tracts—Financial results— Bhadráchalam taluk—Proprietary rights—Fixing of the peshkash— Settlement of 1890 in Bhadráchalam—Agency tracts and rented villages. District and Divisional Limits. Village Establishment—Re-organized in 1866—Revised in 1885. Inams.
As has already been mentioned on p. 34 above, the district, when it was at length definitely acquired in 1768, was not at once administered directly by the Company but was leased out to native renters called zamindars, over whom was a head renter named Hussain Ali Khán. The latter's lease expired in 1769 and the newly-acquired territory was then placed under the direct administration of the servants of the Company. The agents of the old factories and their subordinates were converted into Provincial Chiefs and Councils, and the Rajahmundry and Ellore Circars were put under the Chief and Council of Masulipatam, who for the next 25 years controlled the entire political, civil and revenue administration. They found that the land of the district was of two classes; namely, the havili ('havelly') land, which consisted of house-hold estates, situated round the chief towns, which had been appropriated by the Musalmans to the upkeep of their numerous garrisons and establishments and administered directly by them; and the zamindari land, the collection of the revenue in which was leased out on a commission to zamindars.
These zamindars, in theory, were merely agents of the Musalmans, 1 created for the sole purpose of collecting the revenue. Theoretically, they were removable at pleasure; but they were generally permitted to remain for generation after generation in possession of their estates. They were often charged with the raising of local troops, who were consequently devoted to them, and during the lax administration of the later years of Musalman rule they had become so powerful that they had usurped hereditary rights and come to regard themselves as the legal owners of the soil. They maintained the semblance of state, residing in mud forts in which their palaces were situated, moving abroad only on elephants or in gorgeous palanquins, and being accompanied on their excursions by a rabble of armed peons and a posse of relatives and followers mounted on horses or borne in palanquins. Their practice was to exact by force or fraud all the revenue they could, to pay a certain fixed sum to the Government, and to appropriate the balance themselves. The Chief and Council of Masulipatam treated these zamindars as the owners of their estates, subject to the payment of a money peshkash to Government which was settled from time to time on what was called the mámúl jamabandi, i.e., a customary sum assessed on no scientific basis. The havili land was kept under direct management as in the time of the Musalmans.
The zamindars undoubtedly oppressed their ryots. The 'ancient established custom' of collecting the revenue in the zamindari land was by a division of the crop (ásará), but in practice several different modes were adopted by the zamindars.1 In some cases the crop was shared; in others, particularly on the more fertile soils producing paddy, there was a fixed rent; and garden land, or land producing tobacco, cotton, betel, sugar-cane, oilseeds, palmyra or fruit trees, was assessed on special principles. Where the paddy crop was divided between the zamindar and the ryot, the division was theoretically supposed to leave the cultivator 40, 50 or 60 per cent, of the crop, the higher rates being allowed to Bráhmans and other favoured classes. But as a matter of fact the cultivator's share rarely exceeded 20 or 25 per cent. The fixed rents were also maintained at an oppressively high level.
The havili land appears to have been managed on a somewhat similar system, a renter being substituted for a zamindar. Division of the crop was more common, but arbitrary assessments called sist and malavati were in some places substituted in its stead. Here again however it was the practice rather than the theory which was of essential Early importance to the ryot. In the division of crops the proportions theoretically allowed to the cultivator were the same as in the case of paddy in zamindari land; but 'many after collections were made, and the renter usually exacted a higher price for his proportion than that of the market, which reduces the ryot's share to a fourth or even a fifth part of the produce.' The cultivators, in fact, were as much under the thumb of the renters as of the zamindars. They had no right in the soil, and the renter let the land to the highest bidder. Bad as was the condition of the zamindari ryots, their fields were better cultivated than the havili farms immediately dependent on the Company.1
The Chief and Council at Masulipatam did little or nothing to check this maladministration and oppression, and in 1775 the Court of Directors, aware of the evils of the existing system, and anxious both to protect the ryots and to secure a more adequate revenue from the zamindars, ordered that a Committee of Circuit, to be composed of five Members of the Council of Fort St. George, should be appointed 'to inquire into the state of the Northern Circars by ascertaining with all possible exactness the produce of the country, the number of inhabitants, . . . the gross amount of the revenues, the articles from which they arose, the mode by which they were collected and the charges of collection.' The Directors further ordered that enquiries should be made into the military strength and financial position of the zamindars; and intimated, that, while not desirous of depriving these latter of their revenue, they were determined to protect the ryots from violence and oppression.
Hardly, however, had this Committee begun its labours than its work was interrupted by the intervention of the new Governor of Madras, Sir Thomas Rumbold, who in 1778 decided to summon the zamindars to Madras and himself make a settlement with them there. The arrangement made accordingly was for five years at a rate 12½ per cent, above the mámúul jamabandi, i.e., the amounts the zamindars had hitherto been paying.
Sir Thomas Rumbold ceased to be Governor in 1780 and in 1783 the Committee of Circuit was reappointed. It conducted a lengthy enquiry into the resources of the district and the other points referred to in its instructions, and its reports on the havili and zamindari lands dated respectively December 18, 1786 and February 15, 1787 contain a full and valuable description of the country. The immediate effect of its enquiry was that the increment of 12½. per cent, imposed by Early Sir Thomas Rumbold on the zamindars was confirmed, and in 1786 his settlement was extended for a period of three years till 1789; so that it was actually in force for eleven years.
In 1789 the Chief and Council reported that a just assessment on the zamindaris would be two-thirds of their gross revenue. The Board of Revenue (which had been established in 1786) and the Government agreed, and a settlement was made on these terms except in the case of the zamindari of Pithápuram, the lease of which had not expired and which was then being administered by renters.
In 1791, however, famine devastated the country,1 the zamindars fell into arrears, large remissions were granted them, and their settlements were extended from three to five years wherever the shorter of these terms had been fixed.
The Chief and Council at Masulipatam had distinguished themselves during this trying time neither by their knowledge of the conditions of their charge, nor by their loyalty to superior authority; the reports of the Committee of Circuithad also proved the inefficiency of their administration; and in 1794 they and the other Chiefs and Councils in the Northern Circars were abolished, and the country was divided into Collectorates. At first, three Collectorates were formed with head-quarters at Cocanada, Rajahmundry and Mogalturru, now in Kistna; but shortly afterwards the greater part of the present district was placed under one Collector at Rajahmundry and was named the Rajahmundry district.
Collectors had already been appointed in 1787 for the management of the havili land. Till 1792 they were independent of the Chiefs in Council, but from that year till 1794 were subordinated to them. They introduced much-needed improvements, reducing the size of the areas leased to renters, and in some cases dealing directly with the ryots by sharing the actual crop with them in fixed proportions without the intervention of middlemen. The latter practice, though a great improvement on the system it succeeded, had many drawbacks, as it involved, among other things, the maintenance of a large establishment of native officers who generally combined with the inhabitants to defraud the State.
From 1794, land which fell under the immediate management of Government was leased out in appropriate farms on joint rents to the leading ryots, the rents being fixed in grain and commuted into money at the market price or the average price for a number of years. This plan, however, still left much to be desired, since no precautions were taken to prevent the head ryots from oppressing their poorer neighbours — the besetting evil of all joint rent systems. Moreover the famine of 1791 had denuded the country of cultivators, and though much land had thus gone out of cultivation the ryots had to pay for it just as if it had yielded a crop.
Meanwhile the Court of Directors and the Government of India had been pressing the Madras Government to introduce permanent settlement which had been adopted in Bengal in 1793 and which was supposed to provide a solution of the vexed questions of the amounts which the zamindars should receive from their ryots and should pay to Government. The system was introduced in the Rajahmundry district in 1802-03. The estates of the existing zamindars were confirmed to them in perpetuity on a peshkash which was generally fixed at two-thirds of the average gross collections of land revenue in preceding years, the period of calculation varying from eight to thirteen years according as accounts were available. The havili land was divided into proprietary estates (or 'muttas') of convenient size yielding from Rs. 3,500 to Rs. 17,500, and these were sold in public auction to the highest bidders on permanent tenure subject to the payment of a peshkash calculated on the best available data. In both cases the rights of the under-tenants were protected by a legislative enactment (Regulation XXX of 1802) which enforced the grant of pattas and the observance of customary rights. The land-customs, salt, abkári and other miscellaneous sources of revenue, which had been included in former assessments, were resumed by Government and excluded from the assets of the new estates.
Twenty-seven muttas and thirteen ancient zamindaris were thus formed. Two other small zamindaris1 were subsequently added to this number. The hilly and thinly populated estates of Rampa, Tótapalli, and Jaddangi, whose owners were called mansabdars and whose revenues were trifling, were not brought under the permanent settlement like the other parts of the district, and their existence was in fact almost ignored.
The greater part of the district was included in the Peddápuram estate, which was assessed with a peshkash of nearly seven lakhs. Large areas were also included in the Pithápuram, Pólavaram and Kóta Rámachandrapuram zamindaris, which were assessed respectively at two and a half lakhs, one lakh, and one and a quarter lakhs. The other properties were inconsiderable in extent. There were in all fourteen ancient zamindaris and twelve muttas in those parts of the present Gódávari district which were then included in the district of Rajahmundry.1
The Pithápuram zamindari is the only large property which retains anything like its old proportions. Much of the Peddápuram estate has been bought in by Government for arrears, and what remains of it has been divided into nine small zamindaris which altogether pay a peshkash of less than one and a half lakhs. The whole of the Kóta Rámachandrapuram estate was bought in by Government in 1846, and Pólavaram has been reduced by sales for arrears to a petty estate paying a peshkash of less than Rs. 7,000. The other properties have suffered similarly from sales and subdivisions. Excluding the agency hill muttas and Bhadráchalam, eighteen zamindaris and eleven muttas are still in existence.
This permanent settlement was a dismal failure. Both the ancient zamindaris and the newly-created proprietary estates were speedily involved in financial difficulties. In the case of the former this appears to have been less the effect of over-assessment than of extravagance and mismanagement. Indeed the most lightly-assessed of them all was the first to collapse. The newly-created proprietors not only imitated the extravagance of the ancient zamindars, but had also to struggle against over-assessment. Their estates quickly began to be put up to sale in satisfaction of arrears of peshkash, and usually passed at first into the hands of speculators who eventually came to the same end. In 1813-14 the first of them was purchased on behalf of Government at auction by the Collector, and thenceforward, as the figures in the margin show, an ever-increasing area came, by the same process, under the direct administration of Government. Though the proprietary estates were the first to fall, several of the ancient zamindaris eventually shared their fate.
|Year.||No. of Government villages.|
the frequent disturbances of the peace which occurred, and attributed much of the disorder to the attempts of Government to enforce the rights of traders and other speculators who had lent money to the zamindars and proprietors on the security of their estates. He wrote: —
'They are not dishonoured, they think, by their possessions falling into the hands of Government, but they consider themselves disgraced by seeing the abodes of their ancestors become the property of a low trader. As the Regulations now stand, we must, whenever a sowcar obtains a decree against a zamindar for a part or the whole of the zamindari, support him by force both in getting and maintaining possession of it; and hence we are every day liable to be dragged into a petty warfare among unhealthy hills, where an enemy is hardly ever seen, where numbers of valuable lives are lost from the climate, and where we often lose but never gain reputation.'1
He was emphatically of opinion, none the less, that the great hope for the future lay in the gradual extension of the area of the Government land. 'No zamindari once forfeited for rebellion should ever be restored. All estates falling in should invariably be kept and annexed to the Circar lands.'
Nor did the permanent settlement bring peace and plenty to the cultivators. Few of the zamindars interested themselves personally in the management of their estates; they entrusted everything to the care of managers, whose policy it was to render their masters entirely dependent on them and to prevent their interfering in the administration. There was no system of management; the only object was to extort from the ryots the utmost possible amount of revenue. A second middleman was often introduced by renting villages annually or for a term of years, preference being given to such proposals as ensured the highest amount of rent and afforded security for its punctual payment, and little regard being had to the class of persons tendering or the influence rack-rents must have on the resources of the villages. In adverse seasons all that could be taken of the ryots' produce was claimed on the part of the zamindar, and in ordinary years the demand purposely exceeded their means. The deficiencies of bad years were made up in good ones, and in both the ryot was left only a bare subsistence.
The inherent evils of this system were soon exaggerated by a succession of natural calamities which is described in more detail in Chapter VIII. An unfavourable season in 1831-32' culminating in a destructive hurricane in May of the latter year, was followed by the disastrous famine of 1833; the three years 1835-38 were far from prosperous, the scarcity in the last of them almost amounting to famine; in 1839 a cyclone did great damage all along the coast and far inland; while the season of 1840-41 was almost equally calamitous. Moreover a great decline in the weaving trade had taken place owing to the abolition of the Government factories. The value of piece-goods exported decreased from 14 lakhs in 1825 to less than 2 lakhs in 1842. Numbers of people were thus thrown out of work.
The impoverishment of the district and the decline in its revenue at length, in 1843, led Government to send Sir Henry Montgomery, Bart., an able member of the Civil Service, to make enquiries. His report, dated March 18, 1844, dealt fully with the evils of the existing system. He attributed them chiefly to the inefficient management of the zamindars and proprietors, and the consequent rack-renting and impoverishment of the villages. He also lamented the want of adequate means of irrigation — especially the neglect of the Gódávari water — and the disrepair of the existing works; and his report led to the enquiries which ultimately resulted in the construction of the great anicut at Dowlaishweram and the transformation of the delta of the Gódávari consequent thereon.
The most important part of his report, however, was that devoted to a consideration of the revenue policy which should be adopted in the constantly increasing area which, as has been seen, was coming under the direct administration of Government.
The first villages which came (in 1813-14) into Government hands were rented out to the principal inhabitants jointly, on the system approved by the Board of Revenue in 1794. In 1817 that plan was relinquished, and for a number of years the Government land was administered under the ásará system of sharing the crops or the visabadi system of annual or periodical rents. In both cases the settlement was made with the ryots directly and without the intervention of a middleman; and the Collector was only authorized to rent the villages in the event of the inhabitants refusing to come to reasonable terms.
The ásará or sharing system was simply the conversion into money of the Government share, ascertained by estimate or by actual measurement of the grain, of the actual crop harvested each year. It was apparently almost universal on wet land. Its drawbacks, as already mentioned, were that it involved the entertainment of a large native staff who cheated the Government and bullied the ryots.
Under the visabadi system, which was generally applied to dry land, the assessment on the village as a whole was fixed annually by the Collector with reference to the probable prospects of the harvest, but was frequently revised at the jamabandi in accordance with the actual state of the season. This lump assessment was distributed among the different fields by the ryots themselves, individual agreements being taken by the Collector from each ryot for the rent apportioned to his holding.
The fairness of this distribution was in theory maintained by the introduction of the peculiar system of 'challenging,' under which any ryot who considered that his own holding was over-assessed and that of his neighbour too leniently rated could demand that the latter should be made over to him at an increased rate which he named. If the ryot in possession consented to pay the enhanced demand he could retain the land, and in that case a proportionate reduction was made in the assessment of the fields held by the ryot who challenged. If, however, the ryot in possession refused to agree to the increased rate, he was compelled to give up the land to the challenger, who took it on the higher terms he had himself named.
This challenging necessarily rendered occupation insecure, and it moreover failed to meet every case of unfairness, since the unit of challenging was the entire holding and not a particular field; and a small ryot whose one or two fields were over-assessed could not afford to challenge a wealthy cultivator with a large holding, however sure he might be that the latter was too leniently rated. 'Accordingly,' wrote the Collector in 1825, 'the substantial ryots invariably contrived that their own lands should be lightly assessed and the burden thrown on those of the poorer ryots.'
This apportionment of the lump village assessment among the different holdings was made either annually or periodically. If the latter, it was generally accompanied by a redistribution of the fields among the various villagers every three, four or five years (according to the custom of each village), somewhat in the same way as under the karaiyídu form of the mirási tenure in Tanjore, of which relics even now survive. This was done chiefly to prevent the land held by the smaller ryots from being exhausted by continual poor farming, but also to counteract the frequent changes of possession rendered possible by the challenging system.
The visabadi leases did not work satisfactorily. Arrears usually accumulated owing to the inability of the poorer classes to pay their rents, and then alterations were made in the total amount of the lump assessment; but apparently nothing was done to render its incidence more fair.
Both the ásará and the visabadi systems therefore had their drawbacks, and more than one Collector proposed a return to the renting methods. This was indeed authorized in 1839, though it was not actually carried out.
Sir Henry Montgomery's report of 1844 already referred to recorded the opinion that the only satisfactory way of dealing with the Government land was by a survey and scientific settlement. Meanwhile, as a temporary measure, he advocated a system of joint village rents, and this was introduced a year or two later and remained in force for some 20 years. The challenging system, curiously enough, was retained, and the main modifications introduced were the abolition of the ásará system and the insistence of the joint responsibility of the village community as a whole for the default of any of its members. Sir Henry Montgomery's view was that these joint village rents would afford protection to the poorer ryots in so far as their interests were mixed up with those of the richer, and he was also anxious to remove the obnoxious interference of Government servants which was an essential part of the ásará system, and had also grown up round the visabadi system owing to the ryots being unable themselves to arrange the apportionment of the lump assessments among the different holdings.
Meanwhile notable changes had been effected in the administration of the district. In 1849 a Special Commissioner with the powers of a Board of Revenue was appointed to the charge of it, and the post was continued until 1855. In 1859 the Rajahmundry, Masulipatam and Guntúr Collectorates were formed into the two districts of Gódávari (with Cocanada as headquarters) and Kistna, the boundary between which followed the course of the Upputéru and Tamaléru rivers. The anicut across the Gódávari had also been completed in 1853.
Proposals for the first scientific settlement of the taluks comprising the new Gódávari district were submitted by Mr. R. E. Master, Deputy Director of Revenue Settlement, in two schemes, one in 1860 dealing with the western delta, and the other in 1861 relating to the rest of the district.1 The two schemes, with certain modifications, were introduced in 1862-63 and 1866-67 respectively.
It was not considered desirable, to survey or settle the whole of the villages belonging to Government. The scheme did not deal with 148 Government villages in the Agency and elsewhere in which patches of land were only cleared for temporary cultivation and abandoned after a year or two for fresh ones. These were left to be settled from year to year. Waste land, even in surveyed villages, was often left unclassified on the ground that it was not likely to be soon occupied; and many of the lankas in the Gódávari were omitted from the scheme, because their limits were continually fluctuating, and were ordered to be leased out annually by auction— a system which still obtains.
The remaining area was divided into the 'upland' and the 'delta,' according as it lay outside or within the influence of the Gódávari irrigation. In each of these tracts the villages were grouped into classes with reference to their general fertility and the quality of their irrigation sources. All the delta land was classed as dry, a uniform water-rate of Rs. 3 per acre being imposed on irrigated fields in addition to the dry assessment.
The soils were grouped into fourteen classes,1 the arenaceous series amounting to four per cent, of the whole, the alluvial to six, the red ferruginous varieties to 29 and the regar to 59 per cent. There was also an exceptional class, making up two per cent, of the whole, in which were placed the lankas in the Gódávari and the land irrigated by the Yeléru river in Peddápuram taluk.
The grain values of each of the 'sorts' into which these classes were subdivided were ascertained by experiment. The crops taken as the standard for each class were as under: — Lankas. Upland wet. Delta land and upland dry. Exceptional land under the Yeleru. Red. Black. Sandy. Tobacco. White paddy. Cholam. Cambu. Horse-gram. Cholam. Cambu. Ragi. Black 1 paddy. J Cambu. Ragi. Black paddy. White paddy. Sugar-cane. From the grain values, a deduction was made of one-sixth in the delta and one-fourth in the uplands to allow for vicissitudes of season and unprofitable areas. Commutation prices were calculated from the prices of past years and independent enquiries, and worked out as shown in the margin.* The ultimate grain values were reduced to money in accordance with the commutation prices, and the gross annual money value per acre of each soil was fixed by taking the average of the money equivalents of the grain values of each kind of standard crop. For the special class of land under the Yeléru river the calculations were made on the assumption that sugar-cane would be cultivated once in four years and paddy in the others, the aggregate outturn being estimated for four years and the average for one year taken from this.
|Grain||Rs. per garce.|
|Rs. 20 per maund|
Deductions were next made for cultivation expenses, the expenses per acre on each class of soil being taken as the average cost of cultivating an acre with each of the standard crops. The result worked out in ordinary cases to between Rs. 5-8-O and Rs. 2 per acre, but in the case of tobacco it came to Rs. 35, and in that of sugar-cane to Rs. 95, per acre. Both the gross and the net value of each 'sort' of soil having thus been ascertained, rates of assessment per acre were framed. The share of Government generally approximated to half the net produce. The rates arrived at were modified in their application to actual fields according to the classification of the villages already referred to, the same soils paying less in villages which were classed low in the scale of fertility. In the end, the eighteen rates for dry land and fourteen for wet shown in the margin * were arrived at. The first three of the former applied only to the exceptional soils in the lankas, etc.
The result of the settlement was an increase in the revenue demand amounting, on the whole, to four lakhs, or 23 per cent., over the figures of 1859-60, though there was a decrease in the dry upland villages. In the area which at present makes up the district, the approximate increase in the delta land amounted to Rs. 99,000, or 12 per cent., and in the upland wet land to Rs. 41,000, while in the upland dry land the decrease was Rs. 14,000. The net increase in this tract was thus some Rs. 1,26,000. The water-rate in the delta was raised almost immediately (1865) from Rs. 3 to Rs. 4 per acre, and eventually in 1894 to Rs. 5; and this resulted in a further increase.
This separate water-rate on regularly irrigated wet land was quite exceptional, the method usual in other districts being to charge such land a consolidated wet assessment. It was introduced under the orders of the then Secretary of State, Sir Charles Wood. His idea appears to have been that, though Government was selling the water, it had no concern with the use made of it, and was only required to fix a 'fair commercial value' for it. But to some land the water was worth much more than to others (since fields which grew excellent dry crops did not always do well when irrigated), and in effect the greatest inequalities of assessment grew up among the delta fields.1 These considerations led the Government to reclassify the delta land when the present settlement was introduced.
The settlement continued in force for 30 years and in 1896 proposals for its revision were made. The chief factors calling for consideration2 were the enormous increase in prices (they had more than doubled in most cases), and the great improvement in means of communication, which had occurred since the last settlement. The anomalies caused by the vater-rate system in the delta also called loudly for removal. In the uplands no reclassification of soils was considered necessary, and the chief change was an all round enhancement of the existing rates by one-third, so that Government might share in the profits resulting from the great increase in prices.
In the delta, however, both wet and dry land soils were reclassified and a consolidated wet assessment was substituted for the existing dry assessment plus water-rate.
In reclassifying these soils three series (alluvial, regar and arenaceous) were adopted, the first containing two classes and each of the two latter three. Each class was subdivided into 'sorts.' The standard crops taken for wet and dry land were white and black paddy respectively. For the former the grain outturns which had been arrived at for the same classes of soils in Tanjore were adopted; they were rather less than those worked out at the first settlement. For black paddy the outturns adopted were also rather below those calculated at the earlier settlement. For vicissitudes of season and unprofitable areas allowances of 10 per cent, were made in wet, and 20 per cent, in dry, land. The delta crops never fail and the ryots there obtain very high prices for their crops in famine years; but their assessment was not enhanced on that account. The estimated cost of cultivation was raised, the maxima for wet and dry crops being Rs. 14 and Rs. 8 against Rs, 5-8-0 and Rs. 4 respectively under the old settlement. The commutation prices were taken at Rs. 118 and Rs. 96 per garce for black and white paddy respectively. The average prices of the last twenty non-famine years were actually much higher than these figures, but fifteen per cent, was deducted from the averages to allow for merchants' profits. Half the net annual money value of the outturn of each field as thus ascertained was taken as the Government share and rounded off to the nearest standard rate of assessment. The result was the marginallynoted * fourteen rates for dry, and twelve rates for wet, lands. The two highest dry rates were only applied to lanka or padugai (river bank) lands, which are of exceptional fertility- For purposes of dry assessment, the villages were divided into two groups with reference to their means of communication and their proximity to markets; while wet land was grouped in blocks (irrespective of village boundaries) into four 'classes' with reference to the quality of the irrigation and drainage. When the rates of assessment were applied to particular fields, they were modified according to the groups and classes in which the fields were included.
The general result of the settlement was that in the whole of the Gódávari delta — including those portions since transferred to Kistna district — there was a gross increase in the assessment of Rs. 2,35,000, or eight per cent.
The change from the system of water-rate to a consolidated wet assessment caused some difficulties. The first doubt which arose was as to what land should be assessed as wet and what as dry, since under the former system the ryot had been able to please himself as to whether he would grow dry crops or wet. It was eventually decided that all land which had been continuously under wet cultivation for the five years 1893-99 (but excepting 1895-96), or from which Government water could not be excluded, should be classed as wet. The next question was what water-rate should be imposed on the remaining delta fields when they were irrigated. In the case of this land the option of using or refusing the water was continued, and, in consideration of this concession, the water-rate was fixed at one rupee per acre more than the difference between the wet and dry assessment. No land was classed as permanent double-crop land. The charge for a second crop on wet land was fixed at half the wet assessment, and specific rules were made for the charges for irrigated dry crops and second wet crops on dry land.
The levy of water-rate in zamindari and inam land occasioned some discussion. A ruling of the High Court had raised a doubt as to the right of Government to levy the rate on land of these two classes from which water could not be excluded, and this had to be removed by legislation (Act V of 1900); and the rate was eventually fixed at the old uniform figure of Rs. 5 per acre.
Besides reassessing the areas dealt with at the former settlement, the existing settlement assessed to revenue many villages which either did not then belong to Government or had been left out of account owing to their jungly nature. Some 41 proprietary villages had been resumed by Government1 since the original settlement, and many jungle villages had so far advanced in civilization as to justify their assessment. The large areas of waste land in the surveyed villages of the upland taluks, which at the original settlement had been left unassessed on the ground that they were not likely to be brought under cultivation within a reasonable period, were now brought into line with the fields adjoining them.
On the whole, then, 320,000 acres which had been settled in 1866 and assessed at Rs. 11,38,000 were charged Rs. 18,36,000 in the new settlement of 1900; 19,000 acres which had come newly under cultivation between the two settlements, and had been provisionally assessed at Rs. l6,000, were now charged Rs. 23,000; and some 42,000 acres were assessed for the first time in 1900 at Rs. 34,000.
The existing taluk of Bhadráchalam beyond the Ghats became British territory in 1i860, and till 1874 was administered as part of the Upper Gódávari district of the Central Provinces. It is made up of the old Bhadráchalam and Rékapalle taluks. In 1874 it was decided, in view of its racial and geographical affinities to the Gódávari district of this Presidency, to transfer the taluk to this latter. Its revenue history is therefore distinct from that of the rest of the district.
Bhadráchalam is a portion of a large zamindari estate which is said to have been in the possession of the present family since 1324, and the rest of which remained, at the time of the cession in 1860, a part of the Nizam's Dominions. The possession of the property by the present owners has on several occasions been seriously, though not permanently, interrupted by feuds with a rival family. Rékapalle, which was formerly a separate taluk but is now embodied in Bhadráchalam, was leased out in 1815 by the proprietors of the latter estate to renters who subsequently set at nought their authority and even rose in arms against them. These people were accordingly registered as inferior proprietors at the settlement which followed the cession in 1860. Another class of inferior proprietors were the 'Doras,' to whom the owners of the estate had been wont to rent out certain areas on short leases on a commission of from 20 to 40 per cent, of the gross produce. Their position was also defined at the settlement.
Besides fixing the position of the superior and inferior proprietors, this settlement also determined the status of the ryots. Some of these possessed varying degrees of occupancy right in the soil,1 but the rest were tenants-at-will. The occupancy rights conferred ranged from a conditional right (in the case of those who had held their land for twelve years) to an absolute right, and in all cases the proprietors were prohibited from raising the ryots' rents during the currency of the settlement.
The assessment of the peshkash to be paid by the proprietors was calculated by regular settlement operations. The villages were grouped for purposes of assessment into chuks (subdivisions) with reference to their fertility and locality, and the land was surveyed and the soils classified field by field. The rental which each class of soil in each chuk might be assumed to be able to pay was then calculated with reference to the money rents actually paid during the last five years, and to the value of rents paid in kind. Of the assumed rental thus arrived at, one half was taken as the peshkash.
The Doras above referred to had to pay the superior proprietors the whole of the peshkash so fixed on each village, together with road and school cesses each amounting to two per cent, on the peshkash, a dák cess of a half per cent., and a tribute of from 10 to 40 per cent, called malikhána. The amount and description of rent due from the cultivators to the proprietors was also prescribed, even in the case of the tenants-at-will upon whom no permanent arrangement was binding. Waste lands and forests were declared to belong to Government, after a liberal deduction of waste (from 100 to 200 per cent, of the cultivated area and called the dupati land) had been set apart round each village for the extension of cultivation, firewood and grazing purposes. The abkári revenue was also resumed, and the ráni of Bhadráchalam was granted a deduction of Rs. 4,428 from her peshkash as compensation for the loss she suffered through the resumption of this and the forests. This settlement was thus altogether different in principle from those carried out in zamindaris in this Presidency.
Besides the occupied proprietary tracts, the country contained a vast extent of waste land and small area of occupied land the proprietary right in which was vested in Government. The latter consisted of a number of small and neglected villages in the heart of the forest, in which only shifting cultivation (podu) was practised. The ryots in these were given occupancy rights over all fields which they could prove to have been continuously held by them, and a small assessment — apparently four annas on the extent culturable with one axe, about three acres — was levied.
After Bhadráchalam became part of the Gódávari district, the question of its re-settlement arose. The original settlement had been far less favourable to the proprietor than those carried out in this Presidency, and the proprietor pressed for a reduction of his peshkash and the restoration of his former rights to the revenue from abkári and the forests. The general lines upon which the re-settlement should proceed were ultimately laid down in 1885; but it was not carried out till 1888-89 nor introduced till 1890. The inferior tenures were not interfered with — indeed ryots with provisional occupancy tenures were granted absolute occupancy rights. The average rates on Government wet and dry land were put at 8 annas and 4 annas respectively, and cultivation is now measured up annually. The peshkash was fixed at two-thirds of the various superior and inferior proprietors' assets, ascertained by a scrutiny of their accounts, subject to the proviso that no curtailment exceeding 15 per cent, should be effected in any proprietor's income. The abkári and forest revenue were again retained in the hands of Government, but as an act of grace an allowance of Rs. 4,000 a year was made to the zamindar of Bhadráchalam as compensation therefor, the deduction from the ráni's peshkash above referred to having lapsed at her death. The cost of the village establishment was deducted from the assets on which the peshkash was calculated. The malikhánas were fixed at a uniform rate of 10 per cent, on the peshkash. The road and other cesses were continued and formed into a fund called the Bhadráchalam Road Fund, which was to be administered by the Collector.
The net result of this settlement was a loss to Government of just over Rs. 1,000 annually.
The present Agency tracts of Gódávari consist of the whole of the old mansabs (estates) of Rampa and Jaddangi, the more hilly parts of the old Peddápuram and Pólavaram zamindaris, the Dutcharti and Guditeru muttas of the Golgonda Agency transferred from Vizagapatam in 1881 and the Bhadráchalam taluk transferred from the Central Provinces. As has already been seen, the mansabs were disregarded, as being unimportant, both at the permanent settlement in 1802-03, and at the settlement of 1861--66, and since that time they have all been resumed in circumstances described in the account of each in Chapter XV; the land which formerly belonged to the two zamindaris of Peddápuram and Pólavaram is held either by muttadars or direct from Government; and the revenue system in Bhadráchalam has just been described.
The Government villages, generally speaking, have not been surveyed or settled, but are rented out from year to year to the highest suitable bidder, who is debarred by the terms of his annual patta from raising the rents of the ryots. The auction is merely a form, as there is seldom any competition. Some of these villages are being surveyed and it is proposed to introduce an experimental settlement direct with the ryots on the basis of existing rents. The muttadars pay a small quit-rent. They hold their land1 on a service tenure of the same nature as that of the former mansabdar (i.e., kávalgári or watch and ward) for any breach of which they are answerable to the Government. The holders of the muttas transferred from Vizagapatam are on somewhat similar ground, their tenure being conditioned for service and defeasible at the will of Government. Government can remove them and can appoint whom they choose as their successors. The Agency also includes a few mokhasa villages granted by Government on favourable terms for services performed — generally during the Rampa rebellion. It has already been mentioned that the area which now makes up the Gódávari district was originally placed under the Chief and Council at Masulipatam; was divided in 1794 into the Collectorates of Cocanada and Rajahmundry; was included in 1802 in the new Rajahmundry district; formed part of the Gódávari district first formed in 1859; and was increased by the addition of Bhadráchalam taluk in 1874 and two muttas of Golgonda Agency in 1881.
The district thus constituted increased enormously in wealth, population and importance when the irrigation from the Gódávari anicut took full effect, and became a heavier charge than one Collector could efficiently administer. Accordingly in 1904 the portion of it which lay south and west of the Gódávari river (with the single exception of the Pólavaram division) was transferred to the Kistna district, which latter in its turn was lightened by the formation of the new district of Guntúr. The existing divisional charges are as under: — Division. Taluks. Area in square miles. Population in thousands. Rajahmundry (Sub-Collector) ... Bhadrachalam Agency (Head Assistant Collector). Polavaram Agency (European Deputy Collector). Peddapuram (Deputy Collector), Head-quarter (Cocanada) Deputy Collector. Rajahmundry, Amala- puram, Nagaram. Bhadrachalam Polavaram, Yella- varam, Chodavaram. Peddapuram, Rama- chandrapuram. Cocanada, Pithapuram, Tuni. Total ... 993 911 2,229 800 701 542 49 III 387 357 5.634 1,446 It was not till 1866 that the village establishments of the district were thoroughly reorganized on modern lines. At that time the village servants were paid partly by certain customary fees and partly by the profits of the cultivation of inam lands granted them free of assessment. The customary fees had been collected with, and included in, the old joint- rent settlements; and then deducted under the head of ordinary remissions and disbursed to the village servants entitled to them. At the settlement of 1862-67 these fees were not included in the assessments fixed upon the land, and the Government expressly reserved the power to levy a regular cess for the proper remuneration of the village officers. It was decided in 1866 1 that this cess should be levied under the recent Village Service Cess Act of 1864 at the rate of 8 pies in every rupee of the land revenue on Government lands and of water-rate on inams. It was ordered that the inam lands which had up to then formed part of the remuneration of the village servants should be enfranchised (i.e., surrendered to the then holders) at a quit-rent of five-eighths of the land revenue assessment which would have been charged upon them had they not been inams. The proceeds of the cess and the quit-rents on the inams were set aside to constitute a fund (since abolished) for the future payment of the village establishments.
Before these changes were introduced, the existing establishments were revised. The number of villages was greatly reduced by clubbing small ones with larger ones adjoining, and the establishments were greatly modified, being in every case much reduced, A munsif, a karnam, a talaiyári (called in this district a náyak) and one or more vettis (according to the amount of the revenue demand) were allowed to each village; an additional talaiyári was sanctioned for 29 large villages; and nírgantis (distributors of irrigation water) were largely increased in number, but were only employed for tanks in upland villages in which the ryots applied for them, and were not allowed in delta villages. The payment of munsifs and karnams varied, with the revenue demand of the village, from Rs, l½ to Rs. 12, and from Rs. 5 to Rs. 20 a month, respectively. The lower rates for munsifs (Rs. 1½, Rs. 2, Rs. 3 and Rs. 4) were confined to villages where the revenue demand was small and the work of the headman consequently light. The pay of the talaiyáris, nírgantis and vettis was fixed at a uniform rate of Rs. 4 a month. The old village shroffs were abolished.
Village barbers and Chamars (leather-workers) had also been formerly remunerated with land inams. These were not enfranchised, but were left to their holders to be enjoyed as service inams on condition that the holders rendered to the villagers the services, as barbers and leather-workers, which had been customarily required of them. Specific services were usually specially paid for in grain by the villagers, and these payments formed an addition to the income obtained from the inams.
In 1885 a new scheme of village establishments was sanctioned. The essential alterations effected by this were the increase of the munsifs' pay and the appointment of monigars to help them; the appointment of assistant karnams; a moderate increase in the number of the talaiyáris and nírgantis and a decrease in that of the vettis; and the payment of those village officers in whole inam villages and zamindaris who did work for Government. Villages were graded into six classes, and the pay of munsifs and karnams varied between Rs. 5 and Rs. 12 and Rs. 8 and Rs. 20 respectively. In some cases the munsifs were paid as much as Rs. 15. The number of villages was altered by regrouping and by making provision for some resumed villages in the Rampa and Tótapalli mansabs, and the net result was that the total was reduced by ten. Subsequent to the reforms of 1885 the number of monigars was slightly reduced by regrouping;1 and finally in 1898 2 the minimum pay of karnams was raised to Rs. 8.
In Government villages in Bhadráchalam an establishment of headmen (patéls), karnams (patwáris) and talaiyáris is paid from a fund constituted from a deduction of one anna in the rupee on the land revenue collections in those villages.
The inams of the district were settled by the Inam Commissioner between 1860 and 1870. One peculiar class of inam then dealt with was the ferry inams, which had been granted to remunerate the boatmen who worked ferries on the Gódávari. The enfranchisement at a quit-rent of two-thirds of the assessment, of such of these as had been rendered unnecessary by other ferrying agency was ordered in 1865.3 Ferry inams still exist, notably in zamindari villages. As has been said, the village service inams in Government villages were enfranchised at a quit-rent of five-eighths of the assessment, and the inams of the quasi-private servants of the villagers in such villages — the barbers and the chucklers — were not interfered with.4
Since 1902 a special officer has been engaged upon the enfranchisement of the village service inams proper in the proprietary estates. The principles followed differ in two important particulars from those adopted in the case of village service inams in ryotwari villages. The enfranchisement is at a quit-rent equal to the full assessment leviable on such lands, instead of at five-eighths of this amount; and the enfranchised lands are liable to re-assessment at the resettlement of the district. The work is practically completed and the revised village establishments nearly all introduced.
- 1 See Higginbotham's reprint (Madras, 1883) of the Fifth Report on the affairs of the East India Company (1812) and Mr. Grant's Political Survey of the Northern Circars appended thereto, both of which have been freely utilized in the following pages.
- 1 See the reports of 1786 and 1787 of the Committee of Circuit referred to below.
- 1 Circuit Committee's Report, dated February 15, 1787, para. 45.
- 1 See Chapter VIII, p. 137.
- 1 Vilasa, and Jampalli and Bantumilli.
- 1 These figures exclude Bhadráchalam and parts of Yellavaram, which were not added to the district till later. The figures of peshkash include areas which have since been handed over to Kistna, and are only roughly correct.
- 1 Arbuthnot's Munro (London, 18881), i, 213.
- 1 Printed in No XXII of the Selections from the Madras Records.
- 1 B.P. (Rev. Sett.), No, 43, dated 12th May 1896, p. 6.
- 1 See G.O.No. 623, Rev., dated 27th August 1894 and B.P. (Rev. Sett.), No. 16, dated 29th January 1895, p. I.
- 2 See the exhaustive report in B.P. (Rev. Sett.), No. 43, dated 12th March, 1896.
- 1 Thirty -seven villages of the Totapalli estate in 1881 and four of the Rampa estate in 1882.
- 1 These are clearly set out in the papers printed with G.O. No. 122, Revenue, dated 29th January 1885, pp. 4 and 5.
- 1 G.O. No. 103, Revenue, dated 3rd February 1890
- 1 See G.O. No, 1237, Revenue, dated 23rd May 1866, and also Nos. 963, dated 29th June 1870, and 1097, dated 26th July 1885.
- 1 G.O. No. 691, Revenue, dated 25th August 1890.
- 2 G.O. No. 207, Revenue, dated 15th April 1898.
- 3 Proceedings of Government, dated 21st February 1865, para. 21.
- 4 See the correspondence ending with G.O. No. 541, Revenue, dated 3rd April 1872.