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MalabarMAnchor
Malabar Manual Vol 1 CHAPTER IV. THE LAND
William Logan!
SUB-SECTION V. -SUBSEQUENT LAND REVENUE HISTORY OF THE LOW COUNTRY DOWN TO THE PRESENT TIME

247. Mr. Rickards' agreement with the chief landholders in 1803 regarding shares of produce.

247. After this digression on the system of land revenue management finally adopted for the district, it will be necessary to revert to a much earlier period to the first attempt to treat the revenue assessment the low country taluks on one uniform basis. For this propose it is necessary to go back to the year 1803, when, at a critical time, with active rebellion still flaming in the Cotiote and Wynad countries to the north, Mr. Rickards came to the agreement with the senior Rajas and chief landed proprietors already fully described in paragraphs 226, 226a, 226b and 227.


Mr. Warden as a first step called on all landholders for a return of their lands.

248. On Mr. Warden, who succeeded Mr. Rickards, devolved the duty of carrying out the orders of Government for a revision of the assessments. As a first step, he on 21st July 1805, on all proprietors of land to send in under their respective signatures a detailed account of their landed property, his object being:


(a) to obtain the name of every field in the country, so as to serve as a ground for an actual survey ; and

(b) to obtain an accurate numerical account of the assessable trees, so as to regulate the garden assessments.

The Janmi Pymaish account of 1805-6 was thus obtained.

The statements thus obtained are known in the district as the Janmi Pymaish of 981 M.E. (1805-6), The Janmi Pymaish account of 1805-6 was thus obtained. and frequent references have already in this Section been made to these accounts.


Mr. Warden also collected data for a classification of soils.

249. He, at the same time, arranged through his Sub-Collectors (at that time four in number) “to ascertain the actual produce on different qualities of soil in different places, with a view to obtaining data for a classification of the soils in every taluk.


Mr. Warden next proceeded to survey the wet lands, 1806-10.

250. After being in due time furnished with all these documents, Mr. Warden proceeded to the laborious task of surveying the wet lands. He was assisted in this by the Collector of Coimbatore, who sent him a number of surveyors, “all foreigners to this country.” “They entered on their duty in the year 1806. After four years' labour the work was completed and there it rests ;” so wrote Mr. Warden, in his letter to the Board of Revenue, of 16th June 1813, and he continued :


The accounts thus prepared are known as the Alavu or Hinduvi Pymuish.

“The several changes which afterwards took place brought with them such an accumulation of duty and trouble upon me, with diminished means of getting through them, being left almost entirely to native assistance, that the new assessment, with every thing connected with it, has for some time back been laid aside and the revenues of the province have been continued to be collected on the Commissioners’ Jama1 of 976 (1800-1).” The accounts thus prepared in 1806-10 are known in the districts as the Alavu Pymaish or the Hinduvi Pymaish from their being written in Mahratta : they are the most reliable of all the Pymaish accounts yet prepared, but in certain respects they are very defective.


NOTEs: 1. This was not quite correct, see paragraph 271. END OF NOTEs


The Proclamation of 21st July 1805.

251. The important proclamation published throughout the district at this time will be found in extenso in Appendix XV, It is dated 21st July 1805.

No further steps taken till Sir Thomas Munro visited the district in 1817.


His report.

252. Matters remained in this state till 1817, when Sir Thomas Munro, then a member of the commission for revising establishments, paid a visit to Malabar, and, notwithstanding the shortness of his stay, wrote a most valuable report on the district (Revenue Selections, Vol. I, p. 838). He received many complaints regarding the assessments of garden and wet lands, not so much, however, directed against the general oppressiveness of the assessments, for these were at that time “in general very moderate,” but against the continuance of assessments on lands which had been deteriorated or destroyed by natural causes, and on gardens which had also from natural causes gone to decay. The landholders being unable to pay such assessments, had had their holdings sold, and this practice of selling the land in satisfaction of arrears of revenue, formerly unknown in Malabar, had been viewed with a good deal of dissatisfaction. The balances of revenue thus realised were inconsiderable, but the number of individuals affected thereby was large.


The Board of Revenue (22nd December 1817) proposed to depute one of their members to Malabar, but the Government selected Mr. Graeme (10th February 1818).

253. On the 22nd December 1817 the Board of Revenue proposed to depute a Member of their Board to Malabar to carry out Sir Thomas Munro’s suggestions, but the Government, on the 10th February 1818, overruled this proposal and appointed Mr. Graeme, one of the Judges of the Southern Court of Circuit-


His special commission.

(a). to introduce the new system of Police and Magistracy ; and

(b). consider what improvements might be introduced into the revenue administration of the district.

Mr. Graeme submitted his report, 14th January 1822.

His proposals in regard to assessments.


254. On the 14th January 1822 Mr. Graeme completed his work and submitted to Government his report, already mentioned as having been considered by Sir Thomas Munro ‘‘on the whole the fullest and most comprehensive report ever received of any province under this Government.” His proposals in regard to assessments were briefly as follows: -


Wet Lands (paragraphs 1244 and 1245 of his Report).

Mr. Graeme submitted his report, 14th January 1822.


His proposals in regard to assessments. (a) To take 65 per cent, of the actual rent (Verumpattam) of wet lands.


The reasons for this departure from the letter of the proclamation of 1805.

To assess the revenue at 65 per cent, of the actual rent (Verumpattam, see paragraph 228), as ascertained from deeds and from the people themselves, instead of at 60 per cent of the Vilachchal meni pattam (see paragraphs 226, 226a, 226b and 227 calculated on the plan proposed by Mr. Rickards and approved by Government in 1804 (see Appendix XV). The reason for departing from proclamation issued, with Government sanction by Mr. Warden in 1805 seems to have been that Mr. Graeme ascertained, as the result of his general inquiries, that, the Rajas and others who had assented to Mr. Rickards’ plan for distributing the produce, had, by consenting to adopt the Vilachchal meni pattam as a standard, made it appear as if they were in the enjoyment of a considerably larger share of the produce, than they were as matter of fact getting either at that time, or from that time up even to the time of Mr. Graeme's inquiry. (See “Vilachchal meni pattam” in the Glossary, Appendix XIII).


Mr. Graeme therefore proposed (and his proposal was approved by Sir Thomas Munro, paragraph 9 of Minute, 16th July 1822, Revenue Selections, Vol. Ill, page 548) to discard the Vilachchal meni pattam, altogether and to take such a percentage of the actual rent (Verum pattam) as from his general inquiries he found would be equivalent to the share which Government had a right to expect in virtue of the proclamation of 1805, that is, equivalent to 60 per cent, of the Vilachchal meni pattam. Taking the share at 65 per cent, of the actual rent (Verumpattam), Mr Graeme estimated there would still be a reduction in the actual revenue of Rs. 1,39,922 or about 13 per cent.


Garden Lands (paragraph 1258 of Report)

(b) To take 50 per cent of the pattam of gardens.

(b) Mr. Rickards' plan of taking 50 per cent, of the pattam was adhered to.

(c) But the pattam was to be differently calculated in the north and in the south.

(c) But in making his estimate of future revenue Mr. Graeme departed to the following extent from the precise rule laid down by Mr. Rickards. That is, as already alluded to in paragraph 228, he found the Janmis in North Malabar enjoying 80 percent, of the produce in nuts from cocos and arecas and 80 per cent of the money pattam from jack 3, whereas in South Malabar the universal custom was to take only 662/3 percent, of the same.


Mr. Rickards, who, owing to the state of the rebellion in the north at that time, was dealing (with one solitary exception, the Chulali Nambiar) with South Malabar Janmis had naturally followed the South Malabar plan of distribution. Mr. Graeme proposed to follow the North Malabar plan of distribution in North Malabar, and the South Malabar plan (corresponding to that of Mr. Rickards) in the south only.


(d) He devised a plan of this own for applying these principles.

(c) The details of his plan.

(c) The details of his plan were then worked his plan out as follows : —

I. He found from the Janmi Pymaish accounts (paragraph 248) the total number of trees existing in 1805-6.

II. He deducted all trees said to have been at that time unproductive, or too young to bear fruit.

III. He next made a further deduction (at 20 per cent) for trees at that time productive, but which had since, it might be conjectured, gone out of bearing.

IV. He then took into account the number (75 per cent) of the young trees which had, since that time, it might be conjectured come into bearing.

V. In this way he arrived at the number of actually productive trees.

VI And also at the number of unproductive trees.

VII. From the number of unproductive trees he next deducted the number (20 per cent) which he thought might possibly be cut down and removed when his rates per tree came to be applied to all productive trees.

VIII. And in this way he arrived at the number of unproductive trees which would have to be dealt with when the assessment came to be made.

IX. He next added the number of unproductive trees thus arrived at (Clause VIII) to the number of productive trees (Clause V), and found what would be the total number of full-grown trees standing at the time when the assessment came to be made.


He then went on with his estimate as follows:-

(1) He applied the rates of gross produce in nuts per tree for cocos and arecas, ascertained from the Janmi Pymaish accounts of 1805-6 (paragraph 248), to the number of productive trees (Clause V), and thus obtained the gross produce in nuts.

(2) To this gross produce of cocos and arecas he next applied his locally ascertained prices of produce, and thus ascertained the money-value of the gross produce of those trees.

(3) Next applying to the money-value of the gross produce the principles mentioned in Clauses (b) and (c) above, he ascertained the customary pattam (rent for Cocas and arecas).

(4) To ascertain the customary pattam rent for jacks (Clauses b and c) he had only to apply the money pattam rates obtained from the Janmi Pymaish accounts of I805-6 to the number of productive trees (Clause V).

(5) He then found what the Government share at 50 per cent, of the customary pattam (Clauses 3 and 4) was on all the trees.

And finally —

(6) He divided the Government share of the customary pattam (rent) thus arrived at (Clause 5) by the number of productive and unproductive trees which he expected to find standing at the time of assessment (Clause IX), and thus obtained certain rates per tree which he proposed to apply to all standing trees, except those that were too young to bear. These rates he further proposed not to alter for twelve years except under particular circumstances. The revenue estimated in this way, Mr. Graeme thought, would fall short by about 7 per cent, of the revenue then being collected.


Miscellaneous Lands (paragraphs 1273. 1274).

(e) To take 20 per cent of the gross produce of Modan lands.

(f) He made no proposals in regard to Ella or Punam.

Modan. Graeme recommended the continuance of the prevailing system in South Malabar of taking not more than 20 per cent, of the gross produce of Modan lands (paragraph 33) in the case of all new assessments, to be spread over the period years when the lands are alternately cultivated and lie fallow. Where gardens were cultivated with Modan crops, and where the garden assessment was less than the Modan assessment, the latter should, he thought, be paid till the gardens had sufficiently improved.


Punam and Ellu.—Mr. Graeme made no specific recommendations regarding these.


Sir Thomas Munro’s opinion on these proposals.

Exception taken to the principles which necessitated the cutting down of trees yielding fruit.

255. On the 16th July 1822 Sir Thomas Munro, then Governor, minuted in favour of Mr. Graeme’s proposals, the only exception taken to them being that it was a defective principle of taxation which required a man to put down a tree which was bearing fruit (see Clause VII of last paragraph under gardens), and he suggested that “some method might perhaps be found in practice of making such a remission for old trees as would save them from being prematurely cut down without exposing the revenue to any material loss.”


Mr. Graeme sent back to Malabar to carry out his own proporsals.

The order in which they were to be taken up.

256. Mr. Graeme was accordingly sent back to Malabar to carry his own proposals into practical effect. The order in which he was directed to take up the work was—first, to revise the revenue establishment; second, to revise the garden assessment ; thirdly, to revise the wet land assessments ; as that seemed to be the order in which the subjects required attention.


How far Mr. Graeme carried out this programme.

257. He completed the first, he began the second on the 20th May 1823 he left it and the third to be completed by the ordinary revenue establishment.


The garden assessments in Calicut taluk.

258. Mr. Graeme began the revision of the garden assessments in the Calicut taluk, but, as matter of fact, he left the district before he had time to do more than fix the total of the garden assessments on each village (Hobali) in that one taluk. The individual distribution of that total was left to the Collector, Mr. Vaughan.


Mr. Greame's plan of operations.

Details of his plan.

259 Mr. Graeme, however, sketched out a plan of operations and left instructions with Mr. Vaughan that that plan was to be followed. What that plan was will be now described.


260 (a). He first of all obtained from the people themselves returns of the actual number of trees in each of their gardens and of the produce of the same.


(b) He next inspected some of the gardens and got the people to correct their returns when that was necessary.


(c) When he had satisfied himself of the correctness of the returns, he proceeded to calculate the resulting produce in gross, and took one-third as the share of Government, as recommended by Mr. Rickards and by himself for South Malabar. This one-third share he next commuted into money at certain fixed market rates for produce which he had ascertained by personal inquiry to be correct.


(d) In this way he arrived at the total assessment to be imposed on the village (Hobali).


(e) The next stop in his plan of operations was to communicate to the people themselves the gross assessment thus fixed, and to allow them to distribute it rateably over all the trees in all the gardens of the village, which, for this purpose, were divided into Attu Veppu (river, or low-lying, damp, fruitful gardens), of which there were two classes, and Kara Veppu [gardens on banks (Kara) and other high-lying localities, less productive], of which there were three classes.

(f) His object in doing this was to obtain certain fixed rates per tree, to be applied to all trees in the village according to the class of garden (Attu Veppu or Kara Veppu) in which they stood.


(g) The total village assessment might be increased if gardens had not been brought to account when preparing the estimate of total assessment [Clauses (a), (b) and (c)], and, on the other hand, if on distributing the rates the assessment fell short of the total estimate, the deficiency was made good by distributing the surplus rateably on trees in gardens of the Attu Veppu, first and second, and on the Kara Veppu, first classes only, that is to say, the rates on trees in the best classes of gardens in the village were in such a case pro tanto raised.


The advantage of having fixed rates per tree in each class of gardens in each village.

261. The advantage of having fixed rates per tree in each class of gardens for each village was that there was thus avoided all necessity for calculating the gross produce of individual gardens. The rates had merely to be applied to the existing state of the facts as ascertained by inspection of the soil and situation of the garden, and nothing was left in this way in making individual assessments “to the difficult and uncertain judgment of the gross produce of each garden.”


262. Obtained in the above method, the Attu Veppu and Kara Veppu rates per tree were necessarily not uniform throughout any wide area, and it was only natural it should be so, for cocoa-nut trees,for instance, in inland villages require more care, are more expensive to rear, and yield when full grown a smaller produce than trees growing in low-lying localities near the coast ; and hence it came about that in every taluk Attu Veppu rates and Kara Veppu rates shaded off the one into the other and were not uniform anywhere, not even sometimes in the same village (Hobali), because a Hobali was composed of many Desams, and the rates within the Hobali seem to have been fixed by the people themselves Desamwar and not Hobaliwar.


The Attu Veppu and Kara Veppu rates, therefore, differ everywhere, sometimes even in the same amsam (Hobali)

The distinction, therefore, between Attu Veppu gardens veppu and Kara gardens was (and is) by no means apparent, and though the distinction is still maintained in the accounts, it is doubtful if it is of much practical value, and, on the other hand, it has a tendency to mislead. Gardens fringing a river, even near its mouth, are frequently capable of being classed only as Kara Veppu, while other gardens at long distance from a river are justly classed as Attu Veppu.


Mr. Graeme's principles are still in force.

All really unproductive trees were exempted.

263. It is unnecessary to follow in much detail the subsequent course of events, because the general principles laid down, by Mr. Graeme were adhered to. In practice, however, some details of his scheme appear to have been altered. Effect was also given to Sir Thomas Munro’s suggestion regarding the cutting down of trees, by exempting from assessment all trees that were really past-bearing.


264. Mr. Vaughan finished the garden survey and put the result in operation in 1824-25, but it had been too hastily done, the classification of gardens was incorrect, and there was dissatisfaction with some of the executive arrangements.


Mr. Vaughan finished the garden survey and put it in operation in 1824-25.

On the 15th November 1825, the Government directed "no further collection to be made until a more correct survey had been effected, and until the accounts had received the sanction of the Board of Revenue and of Government.”


Meanwhile the dissatisfaction had rapidly increased. On 28th February 1826, Mr. Sheffield took charge of the district, and in the following month he proceeded to Tellicherry and organised a survey of the five villages (amsams) of Kottayam taluk, whose people had first raised the clamour.


It had been too hastily done and great dissatisfaction arose.

He next, took up 21 villages (amsams) in Kadattanad. the whole of Kurumbranad. and then the 22 "dissenting amsams” in Calicut taluk, 70 gardens in Puluvalinad, one amsam in Ernad, and 2 in Nedunganad, increasing or decreasing the assessments as he found it necessary. This completed the survey of those parts where the people had objected to Mr. Vaughan’s settlement, and the results were put in operation in Kurumbranad in 1827-28, in Calicut in 1828-29, and in Kadattanad and Kottayam in 1829-30.


A general survey of the gardens was undertaken and was continuously in hand from 1829-30 till 1840-41.

It is probable that the assessments on the lands lying along the Mahe river and on Dharmapattanam island were still too high, for the clamour did not altogether cease, and the revenue was, with difficulty, collected. The survey, however, had been far too hastily conducted and put in force even in places where no clamour was raised.


The net result, increase of Rs. 18,849 on 279,896 gardens.

From this time (1829-30) therefore on to 1840-41 the survey of the gardens was continuously in hand, and there resulted a small increase of revenue to the extent of Rs. 18,849 instead of the 7 per cent, deficiency which Mr. Graeme had originally anticipated. The actual number of gardens on which this small increase accrued was 279,896.


Mr. Graeme's proposal in regard to periodical inspirations of gardens was not followed.

Mr. Conolly's views on this point.

265. One part of Mr. Graeme's scheme had been to revise the garden assessments every twelve years. In due course, therefore, the question of periodicity in revisions came up for decision, and in his Jamabandi report of Fash-1253 (4843-44) Mr. Conolly pointed out that no fixed periods for revision could be named, and that "the chief object of periodical revision was to counterbalance any extensive remissions which partial bad seasons or private misfortunes might render indispensable.”


He further observed that the landholders "are aware also that, though we do not think it desirable to bind ourselves to a permanency of aggregate amount of tax, we do so to a permanency of the proportion of the Government demand to the produce;” and, he continued, as uncertainty regarding inspection would curb garden industry, he thought it, best to let things go on as they were and to examine only such gardens as their holders were “forced by their necessity” to submit for inspection. A general revision was necessary, he thought, only when the just rights of Government, owing to remissions, required it.


The old Kurumbranad Taluk re-inspected in 1850-52. A fresh survey thought, necessary by Sir.Conolly in 1854 was afterwards (1858) considered unnecessary. No extensive surveys have since been made or called for. The rule followed is that a person claiming remission on one garden must submit all his gardens for inspection.


In 1850-52, owing to general complaints of over-assessment of gardens, the whole of the old Kurumbranad Taluk was again surveyed, and a decrease in the assessment of only Rs. 366 was the result. In 1854 Mr. Conolly seemed to think that owing to considerable remissions in the three or four previous years a fresh survey was necessary, but Mr. Grant in 1858 pointed out that the losses referred to by Mr. Conolly had since, owing to favourable seasons, been resumed, and there was no longer a necessity for the fresh survey suggested, and an additional argument was that the regular scientific revenue survey seemed then to the point of being extended to the district. Since that time no extensive surveys have either been made or called for and the rule has been that anyone claiming remission of assessment on one of his gardens must submit the whole of them for inspection.


Wet Lands

266. Mr. Greame’s scheme for the revision of the wet land assessments did not progress so favourably. The result was graphically summed up in Mr. (now Sir. William) Robinson's letter to the Board of Revenue of 5th August 1857, paragraphs 16 to 19, which are here subjoined : —


Sir William Robinson's graphic summery of the result.

The 'plague spot' in Mr. Graeme's scheme.

"16. Mr. Graeme’s operations were very limited indeed. He left the district in 1823, directing the Principal Collector, Mr, Vaughan, 'to continue the survey of the Province hitherto carried on under his own control.’ He had himself, however, experienced that the account of the survey returns of gardens were so understated and suspicious, as to require greatest caution in, accepting them1 and 'that the accounts of rice-land which had hitherto been rendered by the proprietors seemed by no means entitled to credit.' Mr. Graeme did not indicate how this plague spot in his proposed scheme of survey was to be remedied.


NOTEs: 1. Vide Mr. Commissioner Graeme's letter to Principal Collector, dated 20th May 1827. END OF NOTEs



“17. The correspondence noted in the margin kept the Board acquainted with the failure of this almost ridiculous attempt. ‘The Desadhikaris are excessively backward in the survey of the rice-lands and pay not the least attention to orders, demeaning themselves in such a way as evidently to prove their luke-warmness in the cause ; that he (the Principal Collector) had been unable to make the least impression on them (the Desadhikaris); that the accounts they give are ‘grossly false beyond description' ; and that they sedulously conceal the deeds, ‘making it next to impossible to ascertain the resources of the country.' In his letter 3rd June, paragraph 10 Mr. Vaughan speaks of his 'utter despair of being able to prepare any returns within reasonable time', and of the 'hopelessness of the chance of getting any true deeds' through the Desadhikaris.


The accounts given in were "grossly false beyond description.


Desadhikaris made large fortunes.

The country teemed with fictitious deeds, temporary deeds, and deeds executed to suit present purposes.

The returns obtained were grossly fraudulent.

Special and singular provisions proposed to check fraud.

Collusions, innumerable disputes and feuds, and suits, beyond calculation in the Civil Courts.


"18. The ryots, too, naturally had recourse to every expedient to secure the easy defeat of the proposed settlement. Desadhikaris made large fortunes, the country 'teemed with fictitious deeds' ‘temporary deeds, and agreements were executed to suit present purposes, and were prepared with a view of corresponding with a survey notoriously fallacious.' A number of returns and deeds was eventually obtained, ‘but the great majority was of the most grossly fraudulent description.'


Special and singular legislative provisions were proposed, penalties and rewards to informants were suggested, forfeiture of concealed land was threatened, and assessment to the full amount of the rental in cases of fraud was actually authorised by the Board,2 but all in vain. In paragraph 5 of his letter, dated 12th October 1824, to the Board, Mr. Vaughan boldly calls on the Board ‘to reflect on the effects of these collusions on the morals of the people in giving rise to innumerable disputes and feuds, as well as suits beyond calculation in the Civil Courts;' adding ‘that it is full time to adopt measures to check the pending evil.’


NOTEs: 2. Proceedings of the Board of Revenue, dated 14th April 1825. END OF NOTEs


Total failure of the attempt after two years' struggle, 9th June 1825.

A variety of futile endeavours to induce the Desadhikaris and ryots to return faithful statements were made’ but on the 9th June 1825, after two year’s struggle to carry out Mr. Graeme's Pymaish, Mr. Vaughan reported the ‘total failure in the promises made by the inhabitants to revise and give in true and correct accounts.’


The Utopian scheme died of its own corruption.

19. Such is the history of another period of five or six years wasted in futile exertion to get reliable revenue accounts from parties most interested in concealing the information, which was sought for through the corruptest, most suspicious and equally interested channels, viz., the Desadhigaris of Mr. Graeme’s appointment. The Utopian scheme of Desadhikaris’ Pymaish and Azmaish died of its own corruption, and infinitesimal authority is attached to the bundles of imperfect returns which load our records under the name of 'Desadhikari Pymaish.’


The difficulties of Mr. Graeme's scheme.

due to his having been prevented from making detailed inquiries into the condition of the ryots.

267. It would at all times have been a difficult operation for intelligent and trained officers to distinguish between what was true and what was false in the deeds produced (unstamped and unregistered cadjan leaves) and in the statements made by the people, on which Mr. Graeme proposed to found his revised assessment ; but when this operation was made over for performance to the ignorant and interested heads of villages, failure was quite certain. If Mr. Graeme had been permitted to pursue detailed inquiries into the relations between Janmis and Ryots (see paragraph 228), it might be safely hazarded that so experienced an officer would never have committed himself to such a scheme.


The wet land survey postponed till after the completion of the garden survey.

Prices of produce rose meanwhile and the revenue coming in easily the necessity for a survey did not crop up again.

268. It is unnecessary to follow up in detail the steps which were taken subsequently and which eventually led to nothing. It will be sufficient to say that the wet land survey was postponed till after the completion of the garden1 survey, as suggested by Sir Thomas Munro, and that meanwhile prices of produce had increased so much as to enable the collections to be made with a facility hitherto unknown. The necessity for a revision therefore, did not force itself into notice.

NOTEs: 1829-30 to 1841. END OF NOTEs


The revenue accounts had, however, fallen into confusion.

269. Nevertheless an important change was made, in consequence of the want of accounts to show the particulars of the holding of each individual tax-payer. The want of such accounts began to be seriously felt in the year 1832-33. Holdings had been enlarged, had been thrown together, and had been parcelled out afresh, and simultaneously the distribution of items of assessment had been tampered with without any regard to the principles of the assessment by which they were at first fixed.


Holdings had changed in size, and the items of revenue had been distributed without any control being exercised.


Good land was assessed at less and bad land at more than they ought to have borne.

A landholder with good and bad land in his occupation, and under some ordinary obligation to part with a piece of it to meet his necessities, naturally enough parted with the bad land first, and there being no control over him (owing to a want of any accounts to show what he was doing), he naturally enough also assigned with the bad land an obligation to pay as much of the revenue assessed on the good and bad land together as he could get his assignee to accept. The principles of the assessment thus became completely changed : the good land was in future assessed with less, and the bad land with more of the land revenue than they respectively ought to have borne. In this fashion great inequalities in the assessment had arisen, and to remedy them a plan was instituted of preparing what has generally since been known as Pukil Vivaram Accounts.


The heads of villages were again entrusted with the duty of preparing the accounts.

No measurements, nor accurate descriptions, nor classifications of soils were made.


270. As if no experience had been gained of the value to be set upon accounts prepared by the interested heads of villages (see paragraph 266) the old mistake was again made, and these officials were again entrusted with the duty of preparing returns of the lands within their respective limits. No measurements, no accurate description, nor classification of soils were called for. In fact it was as Mr. (now Sir William) Robinson described, in his letter to the Board of Revenue of 5th August 1857, a repetition of the Desadhikaris' Pymaish, with fewer guarantees for fidelity or accuracy, and it was more carelessly conducted and supervised. The Tahsildars were to check the accounts and send them to the Huzzur, but after repeated reminders, etc., the accounts came in driblets and without verification by Tahsildars.


In 1843, when an attempt was made to use accounts prepared, their worthlessness became at once apparent.

In 1843 a small establishment was entertained, and about half of them were copied hastily info a form of Kulawar Chitta (individual account); but directly it was sought to verify or use them, their worthlessness was seen and Mr. Conolly at once stopped further expenditure. Mr. (now Sir William) Robinson's opinion of these Pukil Vivaram Accounts was expressed in his letter to the Board above quoted ; he considered that they were not worth examining, as they recorded imperfectly certain particulars of the land as it existed in 1833-43.


The upshot was that Sir William Robinson determined to bring back the deranged revenue demand to the basis of the ancient Jamabandi

271. The upshot of the matter was thus described by Mr. Robinson: “I determined that the only escape from the confusion was to face the question determinedly and to bring back the deranged revenue demand on each parcel or garden to the only certain and common basis that our land revenue accounts of the district admit of the ancient Jamalbandi "as embodied in the Alara Pymuish accounts of 1806-10 (see paragraph 250).


as embodied in the Alavu Pymaish of 1806-10.

These accounts showed the assessment on the wet lands as it existed at the time named, and that, assessment was not, as described by Mr, Robinson (paragraph 22 of his letter), that up "Major Macleod’s Jamabandi of 1802,” nor yet even that mentioned in the quotation from Mr. Warden's letter (given in paragraph 250)," the Commissioners' Jama of 976 (1800-1) but a Jama founded indeed for the most part, as may be gathered from the preceding narrative on that of the Commissioners of 1800-1 but considerably modified in North Malabar by the steps taken there after the receipt of the Janmi Pymaish Accounts of 981 (1805-6) (see paragraphs 29, 32, 75, 76, 80, 82, and 248).


This Jama was founded for the most part, on the Jamabandi made by the Commissioners in 1800-1.

Moreover, it will be seen from the above narrative that the reference by Mr. Robinson to the bringing back of the demand on gardens to the ancient jamabandi was also incorrect. It was probably a slip of the pen, because it is certain that what followed on Mr. Robinson's proposals related to the wet lands exclusively (Board’s Proceedings, dated 12th November 1863, No. 7212).


Sir William Robinson's proposals sanctioned 11th January 1861, and carried out by Messers. P. Grant and G. A. Ballard so that the table at paragraph 231 still embodies approximately the actual facts of the bulk of the wet land assessments.

272. Mr. Robinson’s proposals were in due course sanctioned (G.O., Revenue Department, dated 11th January 1861, No. 82), and carried out by his successors, Messrs. P. Grant and Ballard, so that the table (in so far as it relates to wet lands) given at paragraph 231 may be taken as still embodying, as approximately as circumstances will permit, the actual facts relating to the principles of the bulk of the wet land assessment in the low -country taluks named therein.


Exceptions to this rule.

Fresh land assessment at 65 percent of the pattam.


A proposal of Mr. Clementson's.

272a. There will be some exceptions to this rule in regard to such fresh lands as have been since 1822 brought under cultivation, and assessed at 65 per cent, of the pattam (rent) at local commutation rates. This was a plan adopted by Mr. Clementson in 1833, and afterwards sanctioned. Where, however, the local rates were excessive, he was at liberty to reduce them to the average market prices for ten years. Whether the Verumpattam or Mr. Rickards’ Vilachchal meni pattam was the standard is doubtful. The difference between these pattams was not well understood at that time. The matter will be found treated of fully in connection with the Cochin wetland assessments (paragraph 306).


Miscellaneous Lands

Mr. Graeme's proposals in regard to Modan re-assessment perhaps escaped attention.


One-fifth of gross produce was taken at current market rates, but the demand was not spread over the period of years when the land lay fallow.

273. Modan.—Mr. Graeme’s proposals (paragraph 254) in regard to Modan lands (paragraph 33) occurring as they do in the midst of other matter in his report, probably escaped attention ; at any rate they were partially put into force. He proposed to take one-fifth of the gross produce, which seems to have been done. He said nothing about commutation rates for produce, so it cannot be gathered whether he meant to commute the one-fifth share at current market rates or not. So the actual practice, which was to take current market rates, may or may not have been part of his scheme. Finally he proposed to spread the demand then ascertained over the period of years in which the lands alternately lay fallow and were cultivated: this was not followed.


Mr. Sheffield revised the Modan assessment, 1827-28.

274. If was Mr. Sheffield, the Principal Collector, who in 1827-28 revised the Modan assessments. His plan was as follows ; —


(a) He first of all classified the lands into three qualities according to their productive powers, viz:


Details of his plan

First class, yielding an outturn multiple of from 618/64 to 443/64 the quantity of seed sown.

Second class, yielding an outturn multiple of from 426/64 the quantity of seed sown.


Third class, yielding an outturn multiple of from 315/64 to 29/64 the quantity of seed sown.

(b) For each class of lands “a fair and moderate” quantity of seed was assumed as necessary for “100 square kolls” or land.

(c) The land was next measured and its "square contents found".

(d) The square kolls x quantity of seed x outturn multiple = gross produce.

(e) Government share = one-fifth or 20 per cent, of the gross produce.

(f) The Government share was finally commuted into a money assessment at rates "fixed for each taluk with reference to the average local prices".


The old commutation rates were found to be exorbitant.

Mr. Sheffield took a great deal of trouble and found, on attempting to apply the existing commutation rates (see paragraph 232) to the exact share of Government, that the cultivation would not stand it; indeed there was an extensive abandonment of the cultivation in the Ernad taluk directly he attempted it ; so he was forced to commute at current market rates. He described the previous commutation rates as being “very exorbitant and arbitrary", a fact borne out by the table in paragraph 232.






N.B- What seer was used is not certain, but it was probably the Macleod seer used in the table in paragraph 232.



Mr. Sheffield's system abolished 1st November 1861.


Mr. Grant, the Collector, at the time was unaware of the data on which the rates then in force were fixed.


The custom of fixing the commutation rates annually had perhaps ceased.


The new plan was to fix 12 annas per acre cultivated annually.

276. The system thus instituted continued in force up to 1861, when it was abolished (G.O., Revenue Department, dated 1st Novombor 1861, No. 2086). Mr. Grant, the Collector, at this time stated (paragraph 18 of his letter in Board's proceedings, dated 14th September 1861, No. 5005) that the data on which the assessment rates then in force were fixed were not known, but it will be seen, on reference to column 5 of the table given in paragraph 17 of that letter, that Mr. Shefield’s plan of taking one-fifth of the gross produce was still in force.


The commutation rates were not perhaps in 1861 fixed annually with reference to market prices, as had been the case down to 1845 at least. The Government fixed one uniform rate of assessment per acre on the area cultivated annually, viz., 12 annas. Calculating on the figures given by Mr. Grant in paragraph 17 of his letter above quoted, the commutation rates per 1,000 Macleod seers in each of the modern taluks were in 1861 as follows :



Assuming the Government share as one-fifth of the gross produce, the present rate per acre represents a commutation rate of Rs. 17-11-11 per 1000 Macleod seers.

Taking the average of the Government share of produce in all taluks, as per Mr. Grant’s figures, and applying to it the money rate of assessement fixed by Government in 1861, it appears that the existing assessment represents the very moderate commutation rate Rs.17-11 - 11 per 1,000 Macleod -seers, assuming, of course, as in paragraph 232, that the Government share is one-fifth of the gross produce.


Mr. Graeme made no specific proposals regarding Ellu, but Mr. Sheffield assessed this kind of cultivation on precisely the same plan as he had applied to Modan.

Continued in force till 1861, and 9 annas per acre substituted.

277. Ellu. — Mr. Graeme made no specific recommendations in regard to lands cultivated with this crop, but Mr. Sheffield extended to it precisely the same system as that introduced for Modan and described above (paragraph 274). His plan (likewise as in the case of Modan lands) continued in force till 1861, when by the same Government order an acreage assessment was substituted, viz., nine annas on the breadth of land annually sown with Ellu. What was done at this time will be clearly seen by reference to the following figures. The commutation rates per 1,000 Maclood seers, as per Mr. Grants’ figures were in 1861:


Assuming the Government share of produce at one-fifth of the gross, the rate per acre now in force represents a commutation rate of Rs. 63-15-8 per 1000 Macleod seers. This rate would have been too severe in 1829-34.

Assuming, as in paragraph 232, that, the Government share is one-fifth of the gross produce, and calculating on the average of Mr. Grant’s figures and on the money rate of assessment fixed by Government in 1861, the commutation rate now is very moderate, viz., Rs. 63-15-8 per 1,000 Maclood seers.


NB.—This rate would not, however have been a moderate rate in some taluks in 1829-34 (see paragraph 275).


Mr. Graeme mad no proposals regarding Punam.


There is no record of any revision of assessment from 1805-6 till 1861, when money rates per acre, varying from 8 annas to 12 annas, were imposed.

278. Punam —Mr. Graeme made no specific proposals regarding this crop (see paragraph 34), and probably owing to the remoteness of the localities where it is directly cultivated, Messrs. Sheffield and Clementson also seem to have overlooked it. There is no record, as far as ascertained, of any revision of the principles of the assessment from 1805-6 down to 1861, when the Government order quoted in paragraph 276 fixed an acreage assessment on the breadth annually cultivated of—


10 annas-per acre

in old Kavayi taluk (part of Chirakkal).

12 do.

in the old Kadattanad taluk (northern part of Kurumbranad).

8 do.

8 do. elsewhere.


Adopting for the purposes of comparison the gross produce outturns in the several taluks as given in the table at paragraph 7 of Mr. Grant’s letter on which the Government order was passed, the acreage rates on the original principles of the assessment would have been respectively:


as per the figures in the table at paragraph 232.


The original principles of assessment had long ago been abandoned, and the assessments were in 1861 in the greatest confusion.


Assuming the Government share at one-fifth of gross produce the present money rates per acre represent commutation rates of Rs. 8 to 12 per 1,000 Macleod seers.

It may, therefore, be gathered from the figures given in the table at Paragraph 7 of Grant’s letter, that all attempt to work on the original principles of the assessment had been long ago abandoned indeed - it was inevitable (see the remarks in paragraph 237) and that the assessments had fallen into the greatest confusion.


There is no principle discoverable in Mr. Grant’s figures. The assessment seems to have in course of time approximated to about 10 per cent of the gross produce at from about Rs. 16 to Rs. 24 per 1,000 Macleod seers, which figures at the standard rate (adopted in paragraph 232) of 20 per cent, of the gross produce, give the very moderate commutation rates of about Rs. 8 to 12 per 1,000 Macleod seers.


Other Miscellaneous Lands

Other miscellaneous crops in Palghat Taluk were assessed at 12 annas, per acre in 1870.

279. In 1870 a proposal mooted by Mr. Ballard was finally sanctioned (Revenue Board's Proceedings dated 24th February 1870, No. 1289), of assessing the following crops in the Palghat taluk, viz


1. Cholarn,

6. pulses

2. Raggy,

7. Tobacco,

3. Chama,

8 Thomara,

4. Kambu,

9. Amarakay.

5. Horse-gram,

10. Castor-oil seed.


A similar proposal for other crops elsewhere was abandonded.

at the rate of 12 annas per acre on the annual breadth of land cultivated. A further proposal by the Revenue Board to extend a similar assessment to other crops, such as pepper, ginger, etc., and to other parts of the district was finally abandoned (Revenue Board’s Proceedings, dated 16th September 1873, No. 1846).


The 6 annas per acre on miscellaneous lands imposed in 1861, 16,000 across thus held at present.

280. Six Annas per Acre Rate.—But in 1861 it was also thought politic to hold out inducements to people to take up such miscellaneous lands permanently so as to save the annual inspections and measurements by the Revenue subordinates, which are liable to so much abuse. Accordingly a rate of only 6 annas per acre was sanctioned in the Government order already referred to (No. 2086, dated 1st November 1861), and some 16,000 acres are now held on that assessment throughout the district.


Various money rates per acre were assessed on Palliyal, etc. lands in 1862.

280a. Various Money Rates per Acre on Palliyal, etc.—On 2nd September 1862 Mr. Ballard issued orders to assess permanently on the acreage certain classes of land known locally as —


(1) Palliyal.—Rice-lands intermediate between the ordinary low-lying paddy-flats and the high-lying Modan lands.

(2) Vila nokhi chartunna vaka.—Lands somewhat similar to Palliyal and inspected annually for assessment. The Palliyal lands had hitherto been assessed like Modan lands at one-filth of the gross produce; the Vila nokki chartunna vaka had hitherto been assessed like fresh paddy-lands. These principles were apparently adhered to in fixing the rates per acre, the average of four or five years being struck.

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