Proceedings of the Board of Revenue-Grain, 7th June-30th December,1796
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The early records preserved in the West Bengal State Archive pertains to the administration of the land revenue system by the East India Company. The Company attained the revenue rights of the Province through the Grant of Diwani in 1765. The records in the repositories of the Archive date back to the Select Committee Records in 1768. In the early the revenue administration was managed by various intermediary agencies, these committees reflect the early experiments and confusion of the East India Company over revenue collection.
The Court of Directors decided to reconsider the revenue administration in 1785. On this line the Court wrote in their General Letter, dated 21st September, 1785, that, there would be a Board of Revenue comprising of one of Junior Member of Council, and four other senior servants of the Company. The department would manage the whole administration of settlement, collection and receipt of every branch of the Revenue department together. The Board of Revenue at the Fort William operated from 1786 to 1822. The proceedings relating to Grain was kept distinct from the main series. Oct 1794 to Oct 1803.
In my letter to your Board of the 4th Instant, enclosing the Sales of Rice at Purnea, I think it is but right that I should State for the Information of your Board what this Grain has cost, the Company, with all charges included except the cost of the Golahs average price then is As 6 P 8 ½ maund and the Sales 5 2 ¼ P as the Grain has been sold so well and after 20 months keeping, it is to be presumed it will keep for 5 or 6 months longer or other. I apprehend the Merchants would not have bought it so that there is good ground for my Remark that it will for two years at least, the Golahs that are built by Government are no doubt superior to those of the Country, Merchants and this may account in some degree for the grain being so well preserved with the other precautions I formerly Stated.
Agreed that the Inspector of the Granaries be informed that the Board approve of the Account Sale of Grain enclosed in his letter and that they desire he will acquaint the Collector of Purnea that they approve of his using his Endeavours to dispose of the remainder on the Spot, but that it does not appear to the Board that it would be advisable to transport it either to Calcutta or Benaras, or to any other place for the purpose of being disposed of.
Agreed likewise that the Inspector be directed to submit to the Board a Statement showing the loss which has been arisen, on the Sale of the Grain that has been actually disposed of at Purnea, excluding from the account the amount expence incurred in Building the Golahs. Read the following and enclosure from the Clerk and Inspector of the Public Granaries.
We have received from you, your Letters of the 1st and 18th Ultimo. With the Several Papers mentioned to accompany them.
2d. We are concerned to observe that so considerable a loss has occurred on the Sale of Grain, which has been disposed of at Beerbhoom and Purneah, as it appears to us that the price at the latter Station bears no proportion whatever to the value of the Article, we think that it might have been expedient to have adopted the Collectors proposition for transporting the Grain to Calcutta, Should it yet remain undisposed of , we desire you will take into consideration the expediency of this Measure, or in the event of its still appearing to your inadvisable, that you will State more particularly the Grounds of your Objections to it. We are much surprized at the Collectors Observations regarding the use of force in making the purchases, and we desire you will Call upon him for a particular explanation of the Circumstances to which he alludes.
3d. We do not think proper to adopt your proposition for building brick Granries, an experiment, as we are not at present aware that the Measure could be of any utility under the Circumstance of our having already determines that it will not be advisable for Government to erect brick Golahs for storing the grain.
4th. The Suggestions in the last paragraph of the Inspector’s letter of the 7th Ultimo appears to us to merit your attentive consideration and we desire you will make particular enquiries with a view to ascertain how it may be practicable to effect the proposed exchange of Grain in store for the produce of later harvests.
5th We entirely approve of your deputing the Inspector to the different stations for the various purpose pointed out by you, and as it appears to us particularly desirable at the present Season of the year to ascertain as accurate information as possible with respect to the State of the harvest, and the probable event of the ensuing Crop, we desire you will immediately Call upon the several collectors for a particular report on this Subject.
6th. Until you may be furnished with this information we think it will not be advisable to make any further sales of Grain, except in particular instances where the quality of it may [Page 175] be such as to render it unadvisable to keep it any longer in Store.
7th. In conclusion we think it proper to point to you the necessity of your paying an unremitted Attention to the important object which has been Committed to your charge; We desire you will take every particularly careful to prevent the inconveniences which might be experienced from the interference of Government, either by checking or restricting the Commerce in this article or injudiciously enhancing its price, or by affording the native officers employed in purchasing the Grain an opportunity of committing frauds or oppression on the lower classes of the people. The object of Government in keeping up a store of grain being exclusively with a view to the benefit of the Community , by averting the dreadful effects of a famine , we should consider as incompatible with this object, any measures which might be attended with injury or inconvenience to the People, or have the effect of restricting or discouraging the Commerce of the Country.
A very severe earthquake which happened here on the morning of the 16th Instant between the Hours of two and three; has not only rent and rendered uninhabitable every Pucka building in the place but leveled many with the ground and I am sorry to inform you done infinite damage to the Golahs; only and the rest being thrown down. It is in some respects fortunate it happened at this season of the exposure to the Weather and to prevent its being stolen I have placed an additional guard, at any rate as I before mentioned new golahs would be requisite are the Commencement of the N.West Season, and I am now necessitated to request your Sunction for setting about rebuilding them, each Golah to contain 4000 Maunds will cost 120 Rupees
Sylhet November 21st 1796
Nearly three Seasons having elapsed since the grain purchased in this Province on account of Government was stored , the Husk of the Channa or Gram has altered its colour, but the pulp is still round and good I therefore beg leave to propose that it be sold and replaced of with Grain of this year’s produce The prices of all sorts of Grain have lately risen and will continue high until the months of March, April and May when the Rubby Crop is in the market, It it meets with your approbation, I request your dispose of the Grain in store in store or as much of it as can be effected without loss to government during the months of January and February which are the dearest Season and to replenish the Granaries in the cheapest Viz March, April & May.