Famine and Dearth

Proceedings of the Board of Revenue-Grain, 3rd January-15th December, 1797

About this text

Introductory notes

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.

1.

1.1.

[Page 242]
To J F Sargent Assistant to Clerk & Inspector to the Public Granaries Fort William
Sir,

I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 23rd Instant requiring my report upon the quantity of grain procurable in this District.

In Burdwan of the present crop Mds. 50000 may be procured the number of Golahs at present are thirty three of which only are [Page 243] empty, which would hold about maunds 9000 but have hitherto been kept empty in reserve of any accident happening to those stored with Grain; To erect new additional Granaries, would take a period of four months, when the rains would be setting in, and the price of Grain considerable increased, but if the Board require an additional quantity of Rice at Burdwan, there are four Golahs at Concunnagur, which is at the distance of half a mile from the present granaries, these would hold of Rice Maunds, 47000 or of Paddy 26000 which the proprietor would dispose of for __ 3,000 the price of Rice at Burdan just now, is Maund 1:30 seers per Rupee, and of Paddy maunds 2.20 per Rupee, at [Page 244] Culna where there are 42 Golahs, 28 are empty, which would contain, about 70000 Maunds of Grain, of which I would recommend half the quantity of Rice, and the rest Paddy to be laid in; The Price of Rice at which place , is one Maund – Twenty Seers per Rupee- at Pattwrcouchey, there are 17 Golahs, 9 of which are empty, which will contain Mds 24000 of Rice and which quantity can be procured there at two Maunds per rupee.

Should the Board deem it advisable to make up the deficiency of the Grain now in the public stores in this District, it will be necessary no time should be lost in completing the purchases at different places [Page 245] where the public Granaries are.

I am & ca
W.Ireland

1.2.

[Page 508]
To William Berrie Esq Clerk & Inspector of the Public Granaries Fort William
Sir,

Conformably to my intention communicated to you in my [Page 509] letter of the 25th August, I shall now proceed to report on the Estate Grain and Golahs in this District, as delivered over to my charge which I have inspected in person.

2nd Quantity- The quantity of Paddy originally purchased by my predecessor amounted to Maunds 1,50,000 of which Maunds 1,00,000 have been since disposed of by Sales, the Balance therefore remaining in store in the Golahs, which are Ten in number, appear by this account to be Maunds, 50,000 – However as no wastage has further to been allowed since the purchase of the original quantity which wastage according to the computation of my predecessor, and from the information I have been able to obtain cannot amount to less than about ten [Page 510] per cent, it became impossible for me to declare what real quantity these golahs contained, I therefore thought it proper with a view to ascertain the quantity, previous to my taking charge of the Granaries to carry hither three of the principal native merchants who estimated to be Maunds 36,000 without weighing the Paddy on other mode occurred to me of ascertaining the quantity and at this season of the year it would not be advisable to remove the Grains in order to be weighed which could not be effected without incurring the expence of erecting for the purpose temporary sheds.

3rd State of the Grain- Owing to the inclemency of the climate, to the golahs being [Page 511] at this season incompassed with sheets, to the excessive dampness peculiar to this district I am sorry to say that the Grain is rather damaged both in the upper and lower parts of the Golahs on an average at the rate of one and half cubit above and at least two cubits below in each golah, if necessary musters can be sent to you from each Golah.

4th State of the Golahs- Almost all the Golahs are sunk down more or less, which can only be attributed since I understand they underwent a repair after the late Earthquake, to the softness of the earth rendered so by the incessant rains which fall in this district.

5th As the Choppers and Jaumps of almost every Golah require an [Page 512] immediate repair, I request you will be pleased to obtain the sanction of the Board of Revenue for me to disburse about Sicca Rupees 50 or 60 for that purpose.

6th In the event of its being the intention of Government to continue to purchase Paddy in the District for which as far as my information extend I would never recommend to exceed maund 60 or 70000 per annum/it will be necessary in the month of October to rebuild the Golahs and in this since the plan on which these have been executed have not, owing to the inclemency of the climate peculiar, to his district sufficiently answered, I would take the liberty to suggest that the posts of the new golahs, if built, be fixed in Pucka work and the platforms [...] boarded with [Page 513] thick planks. The mode of erecting the new Golahs will not from the cheapness of the materials in this district comparatively speaking be attended with any great expence and the advantages resulting therefore both in respect to the better preservation of the grain and durability of the Golahs will more than compensate for the additional expenditure.

I am & ca
J.Ahmuty Collr.
This is a selection from the original text

Keywords

calamity, earthquake, grain, granary, paddy, price, rain, rice, store, waste

Source text

Title: Proceedings of the Board of Revenue-Grain, 3rd January-15th December, 1797

Original date(s) covered: 1797

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from manuscripts at the West Bengal State Archives. Original date(s) covered: 1797

Digital edition

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) pages 242 to 245
  • 2 ) pages 508 to 513

Responsibility:

Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: India > official correspondence > state archives > West Bengal

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.

Acknowledgements