ECONNOMIC CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE,COM MUNICATIONS, TRADE, TOWNS AND LOCAL BOARDS.
Rents- Wages-Prices- food and dress- Dwellings- Economieconditoin of the people – conventtional retrictions- Communication- Development of steam navigation- Railway- Roads- Navigable rivers post and telegraph – Commerce and trade- Markets – transfrontier trade-fairstowns- Local Boards .
When land is sublet the rent is paid either in cash or in kind; the former system being known as sukani or Khandua, the latter as adhi,Under the chukti or guti adhi system the tenant contracts to deliver a fixed quantity of grain irrespective of the character of the harvest, but the more usual procedure is for the tenant and the landlord to divide the crop. The following description of the different foms of adhi tenure is taken from a note by Mr. Basu,Assistant to th Director of Land Records culture.
"Adhi proper, in which the crop is divided equally between landlord and the tenant. The produce may be divided either before reaping (gach-adhi, in which case the standing crop is divided in the field, each party reaping his own share; after the tenant has cut the crop (daladhi) when the bundles the tenant has cut the crop (dal-adhi) when the bundles (danguris) are eually divided; or after the tenant has cut and threshed the crop (guri-adhi, called also guti-adhi in Lower Assam) when the grain is divided. All work prior to the act of division and expences incidental thereto are borne by the tenant. The seed grain alone is, as a rule, found by both parties in equal shares, and if one party has advanced it in the beginning, one bundle (danguri) of paddy per bigha is deducted from the whole.
In payment of the advance, and the remainder is then divided equally between the landlord and the tenant. There is still another kind of division in whice the tenant undertakes to cultivate the land up of the (boka-adhi), when the land is divided in equal parts, each party transplanting his share with his own seedlings and at his own cost.
"In every from of adhi the Government dues are paid by the landlord. As a rule, it is only good productive lands which can be let on adhi tenure, particularly on the chukti and guri forms of the tenure. In adhi tenure, no extra payments are called for. Cash paying tenants, however, are often called upon to pay various perquisites which go to swell the nominal rent dues. The most common is gratuitous labour for a certain number of days in the year. This is ordinarlily the case with all tenants holding temple lands. Not unfrequently the rent is partly, and, in some cases, wholly remitted in consideration of labour to hereditary tenants who are descendants of former paiks attached to the temple."
Statistics of subtenancy were compiled in 1899-1900 and are summerized in the following
Name of Subdivision.
Total settled area for which returns compiled
Total area sublet
Area paying prouce rents
Area paying cash rent.
It will be seen that only 3 per cent of the settled area in Tezpur for which statistics were compiled, and 11 per cent of the corresponding area in Mangaldai were occupied by tenants. The existence of a considerable number of tenants in the latter subdivision is due to the fact that the estates of the Darrang Raja's family are situated in this locality. In Tezpur tenants are often Garden coolies who rent land from the Assamese in then neighbourhood of the plantation. Only one-eleventh of the total area sublet was hel on adhi terms. The cash rents charged do not, as a rule, exceed the government revenue demand. Accordhing to the census the number of cultivating tenants both workers and dependants , in Darrang was 8,314 in 1891 and 16,468 n 1901.
There is really no such thing as a landless labouring class in Darrang, and in 1891 only 1,124 persons were returned as supported by general labour.* Kacharis will,howevere ,work on tea gardens for five or six months at a time, and ex-garden coolies, who have settled in the villages, will occasionally work on the plantations. Since1897 Labourers have come in greater numbers from Kamrup, but, in spite of this, nearly all the revenue officers complain of the difficulty of obtaining labour. The normal daily wage is 4 or 5 annas in Mangaldai, and 6 annas in Tezpur. Servants are generally fed, and receive 5 or 6 rupees per mensem as wages. In Mangaldai it is the practice to give a servant an advance, which is gradually worked off.
*The figures for 1891 are given, as in that year all persons who combined general labour with agriculturre were .shown under the former head. In 1901, per sons whose principal occupation was agriculture were shown as cultivators. Had the 1891 system been in force , the number of general labourers would only have been about 300 more than at the prious census .
Carpenters and masons are said to get from twelve annas to one rupee and blacksmiths one rupee to one rupee eight annas a day. The number of these artizans is, however, quite insignificant, and in quoting a rate of wages for the district it must always be borne in mind that labourers cannot as a rule be obtained at all except through the intervention of some individual possessed of local influence.
The prices of rice, matikalai, and salt I February and August will be found in table X. in 1835, Lieutenant Mathie reported that rice sold for 12 annas a maund, but since 1880 there does not seem to have been any very material rise of prices. They vary very largely in accordance with the character of the harvest, and rice is naturally much dearer in August than it is in Feberuary. Prices, too, are much lower in Mangaldai, where there is a comparatively small garden population, than they are in the markets near Tezpur. Salt is considerably cheaper since the reduction of the duty in 1904.
Food and dress
The staple food of the people is boiled rice eaten with pulse, spices, and fish or vegetable curry. Amongst the well-to-do-, pigeon or duck occasionally take the place of fish, but fish is a very common article of diet, and is said to be a substitute for ghi, which is not very largely used Goat's flesh is eaten by Muhammadans and members of the saktist sect, and venison is always acceptable, and is frequently procurable, especially in times of flood, when the deer are driven into islets of higher land and are ruthlessly slaughtered from boats. Tea drinking is very common, especially in the early morning. Sweetmeats usully consist of powered grain mixed with milk, sugar, and ghi . the ordinary from of dress for a villager is a cotton dhoti or waistcloth, with a big shawl or wrapper ,and sometimes a cotton coat or waistcoat. Women wear a petticoat, a scarf tied round the bust,And a shawl. Amongst the Assamese these cloths are generally home made, and in the case of women , and of the large wraps used in the cold weather by men, are not unfrequently of silk. Foreign men generally wear coats and dhotis of Manchester cotton. and the women cheap but gaudy saris of the same material. Men and women alike generally go bareheaded, but the former sometimes twist a handkerchief round their heads, and on sunny or rainy days both sexes have recourse to the broad brimmed jhapi. The jhapi servesas a protection against the sun and ran, and is made of leaves and split bamboo, and decorated with coloured cloth. These hats are circular in shape, and range from two four feet in diameter, but those of the larger size are more often carried than worn. Boots and shoes are the exception, and in their own homes even well-to-dopeople wearwooden clogs. Wooden sandals are also used by vilagers when travelling or working in jungle ground, where there are tufts of sharp pointed grass.
The homestead of the ordinary peasant is generally separated from the village path by a ditch or bank, on which there is often a fence of split bamboo. Inside there is a patch of beaten earth which is always kept well swept and clean. Round this tiny courtyard stand two or three small houses, almost huts, and in a corner there are generally two open sheds,one of which contains a loom while the other serves the purpose of a cow-house. The whole premises are surrounded by a dense grove of bamboos, plantains, and areca-nut trees, and there are often numerous specimens of the arum Family covering the gound, The general effect is extremel picturesque, but the presence of all these plants and trees makes the homestead very damp and excludes all sun and air. At the back there is generally a gardenin which vegetables, tobacco, and other plants are grown. The houses are small, dark, and ill-ventilated and must very hot in summer . they are built on low mud plinths, and are thus extremely damp. The walls are made reeds plastered over with mud, or of split bamboo, the roof of thatch, the rafters and posts of bamboo. All of these materials can, bobtained free of charge, and a house costs the owner nothing but the trouble of erecting it, but in spite of this they are small and badly built. The house of the middle class are built on practically the same plan, but they are larger, and wooden posts and beams are often used in place of bamboo. The furniture of the cultivating classes is very simple, and consists of a few boxes,wickerwork stools and baskets, brass and bell-metal utensils,and bottles and earthen pots and pans. His bedding is a quilt made out of old cloths,and he either sleeps on a mat on the damp floor or on a small bamboo machan or platform. The well-to-do hav4e beds, tables, and charis in their houses, but these articles of luxury are seldom found outside the town.
Economic conditoin of the people
There are no rich men amongst the Assamese in Darang, and very few who are even moderately well-to-do, but the explantion of this fact is not far to seek. The Assamese is a cultivator and nothing more, and with wholesale trade, crafts, and industries,he has little or no concern. There are few capitalists who have the means to enable them to farm upon a large scale, and even were the money forthcoming, it would be very difficult to oban the necessary labour. Outside the tea gardens the immense mass of the people are small peasant proprietors, who drive the plough themselves, and carry home the rice tha has been cut by their wives and daughters. Such a community can never become rich, but it is well removed above the line of poverty, and it is seldom that any villager in Darrang ges hungry to his bed.
Most of the revenue officers consulted are of opinion that a condiderable proportion of the villagers are in debt,but it is difficult to believe that indebtedness can have assumed serious proportions, though a certain amount of petty borrowing no doubt goes on. The rates of interest charged vary from two pice to one anna in the rupee per mensem for small loans for short periods, but loans for larger sums can be obtained at lower rates. The tea industry puts an immense amount of money into circulation, and no less than Rs. 26,44,000 were paid away in wages in 1903-04. much of this fins its way no doubt into the pockets of the kaiya, but, even assuming that each, adult cooly only spends Rs. 2 per mensem on rice, poultry, and vegetables purchased from the villagers this would amount to over Rs.11,50,000 in the year,* or more than the total revenue raised in the district from land revenue, cesses, and all heads of excise. The raiyats are said to obtain the cash required to pay their revenue And buy their little luxuries, by the sale of rice, vegetables, and poultry, for which they have a market at their very doors.
The mustard crop which generally grown for sale is usually worth nearly three lakhs of rupees to the raiyats.* The Kacharis seldom grow much rice for sale, as they consume enormous quantities in beer, and many of them earn the cash they need by the sale of eri cloths,or by hollowing out canoes, or by working on the tea gardens. Tea garden work, though well paid, is irksome, and,as it entails an absence from home for several months,is not very generally resorted to.† in 1901, little more than one-tenth of the Kacharis of Darrang were censused on on the plantations. And only a few hundreds had gone to districts further up the valley.
*There were 48,487 adult coolies in Darrang on June 20th, 1903
The people of Darrang do not seem to be hampered by many conventional restrictions. All castes, except the Brahman, rear the eri slk worm, but the cultivation of pat is restricted to the Katanis. All castes again catch fish, but only the Nadiyals, Kacharis, Rabhas, and Muhammadans will sell it. Very few people plough on the ekadasi (eleventh day of the waxing or waning moon), purnima (the full moon), amabasya (new moon), and the sankranti(last day of the month). The Assamese abstain from work during the bihus, and on the occasion of the sradh ceremonies of Sankat Deb and Madhab Deb. Pulse (mah) is not sown on days beginning with an m, or mustard ( shoriya) on days beginning with an sh. The Following quaint prejudices against certain days, reported from the Kalaigan tahsil, are found to a greater or less degree in most parts of the district. Monday –loans not given, Sali dhan not sold; Tuesday –ahu and Sali dhan not sold, shaving, and cutting of bamboos prohibited ; Thursday- loans not given, shaving prohibited' Satur day –ahu dhan not sold, shaving, and cutting of bamboos prohibited. In some parts of the district certain days are considered particularly inauspicious for the payment of the land revenue. In Chutia, for instance, the raiyats avoid Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; in barchola, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays; and in Behali,Mondays and Saturdays.
Communication. Early difficulties.
At the time when the British came into possession of Assam, the difficulty of communications proved a most serious obstacle to the development of the Province. The Brahmaputra was the great highway which connected this portion of the Company's dominions with Bengal, but the journey up the river for any boat of ordinary size was a very lengthy business.
Mecosh, writing in 1837, stated that a large boat took from six to seven weeks to come from Calcutta to Gauhati, though the post which was conveyed in small canoes rowed by two men, who were relieved every fifteen or twenty miles, reached gauhati in ten days and Bishnath in three days more.*
Few people presumably had sufficient time or patience to undertake the voyage at that season of the Year week after week the weary traveller must have pursued his tedious way, his view bounded as a rule by high banks of treacherous sand, which then as now were continually being undermined by the curent and falling with a crash into the water. It was only occasionally that he could relive the monotony of the voyage by a stroll on shore, as through the greater part of its course down the vally the banks of the river are covered with high reeds and grass, which are quite impenetrable to amen on foot, and the tedium of this dreary voyage must have been immense. Canoes , of course , could travel faster against the current, but a canoe is not a vessel in which the ordinary man can journey for many days in comfort.
Beginning of steam navigation.
This was he state of things for twenty-two years after our annexation of the valley, but in 1848 the Government steamers were deputed to ply between Calcutta and Gauhati years later, the Commissoioner, Major Jenkins, made the not unreasonable proposal that three or fourr times a year they should be allowed to proceed right up the vally to Dibrugarh. His sugges tions were negatived by the Marine Department on the ground that the voyages wpould be failure, but his views were strongly urged on Government by Mr. Mills when he visited the Province in 1853. the proposal met with the apporoval of the Lieutenant Governor, instructions were issued for the despatch of a steamer in that year, and several voyages were made with results that were not unsatisfactory even from the finanacial point of view. The journey from Gauhati to Dibrugarh and back occupied no more than fifteen days, an extraordinary contrast to the interminable delay of the same voyage in a country boat The cargo tendered soon exceded the carrying capacity of the steamers, and in 1855 Lieutenant-Colonel Jenkins complained that the vessels reached Gauhati fully laden with goods shipped in Upper assam, so that gauhat and the ports below derived proctically no advantage from the downward service of the stermers.
As was only to be expected the rates at first charged were fairly high, and a ticket Calcutta to Gauhati cost no less than Rs. 150 On the the other hand the accommodation was designed on an extremly liberal scale. The regulations issued in 1851 expressly authorized passengers to carry pianos in their cabins free of freight, provided that they were required for use during the voyage and were not in packing cases, aproviso which suggests a very deliberate voyage as compared with the speedier travelling of the twentieth century. Freight on ordinary stores seems to has been charged at the rate of one rupee per cubic foot between Calcutta and Gauhati, but for some time longer a great part of the trade of the Province continued to go by country boat. The planters could never count on being able to despatch their tea by steamer, and were thus compelled to keep up an establishment of country boats, and having got the boats to use them, and the same objection held good in the case of native merchants.* the cost of working the line was heavy, but in spite of this it showed a fair profit, and it was evident that there would be a great development of the traffic if only facilities were provided for it.
*Memorandum by Director of Public Instruction, Bengal, dated the 7th February 1857.
Private steamers put on the river
In 1860, the india General steam navigatin Company entered into a contract to run a pair of vesesels every six weeks provided that the Government boats were taken from the line, and, since that date, the steam navigation of the Assam valley has been in the hands of this Company, and the River Steam Navigation Company with whom they are associated. But, in spite of the existence of a regular service, and the quickening effects of privats enterprise, travelling still continued to be very slow the steamers did not profess to run to scheduled time. The delay at the langer ports for the loading and unloading of cargo was considerable, and the passenger no doubt often required his piano to beguile the tedium of the way. In 1861, the Commissioner, Colonel Hopkinson, was disposed to take a gloomy view of the condition of affairs, and in a letter to Government openly gave expression to the opinon that it would be better to compensate the planters for any loss they might sustain ,and abandon the Province unless Government were prepared to enter upon a course c vigorous material improvement .In the same letter he drew the following dreary picture of the isolation of Assam :-
"With the furious current of the Brahmaputra ,still unconquered by steam ,opposing a barrier to all access from without ,and not a single road fit for wheeled carriage ,or even passable at all for a great portion of the year,there is such an absence of the full tide of life running through Assam ,such a want of intercourse between man and man ,as does and much result in apathy ,stagnation ,and torpidity and a terrible sense of isolation,by which enterprise is chilled and capital and adventurers scared away. The profits of tea cultivation should attract hundreds where tens now come ,but the capitalist is not always to be found who will ventures his money in a country to which access is so difficult as it is to Assam ,through which his correspondence travels at the rate of a mile and a half an hour ,and in which it may take a month to accomplish a journey of two or three hundred miles; nor, on the other hand, is it evry spirit, however bol, that cares to encounter so dreary a banishment, and to be so entirely cut off from his fellows in a place from which exit is only possible at rare intervals, and must be so literally a prison or tomb to him."
Matters, however, gradually improved, and in 1884 a daily service of mail steamers was started between Dibrugarh and Dhubri ,connecting with a steamer which oiled between the latter place and Jantrapur.Here the traveller who was pressed for time could take the train to Calcutta ,through the line was not of the most comfortable ,as more than one river had to be crossed in boats before the capital of Bengal was reached.
The introduction of a daily steamer service represented an enormous advance in the facilities for communication between Assam and the outer world .The large steamers were not uncomfortable ,but progress was slow ,and not only the hour but the date on which they left any given port was far from certain .The would-be traveller could not choose his own time for starting on his journey ,but had to select a date on which a steamer was expected at the nearest ghat even that he nat unfrequently had to endure a weary period of waiting by the river bank .The daily service changed all that ,and combined the advan tages of regularity with a speed ,which ,in comparison with that attained by the large cargo boats,was most commendable .During the rains Dibrugarh was reached on the fifth day after leaving Dhubri ,while the downward journey was performed in three days .The navigation of the river is not entirely free from difficulty ,The companies were not incited to further efforts by competition, and some years elapsed before any attempt was made made to reduce the duration of the vovage. On the completion of th Assam-Bengal Railway the companies relized that it was necessary to accelerate their timing if they were to retain their traffic, and steamers now reach Dibrugarh on the fourth day from Dhubri, while the voyage from Dibrugarh to Goalundo only occupies three days.
The ports at which the steamers call in Darrang are Rangamati for Mangaldai, Singri, Tezpur, Bishnath , Behalimukh and Gamirighat.
The only railway,in the district is a small line on the 2 ′ 6'' inch gauge which was constructed in 1896 by a private company. It runs from Tezpur, past Dekargaon, Bindukuri, Sessa, Thakurbari and rangapara to Balipara, 20 miles away. From Rangapara there is a branch line to Barjuli. It was primarily contructed to afford an outlet to the tea manufactured on the prosperous estates through which it passes, and cost altogether Rs. 4,87,000. It is a wellmanaged little line, and in 1903 paid a dividend of 5 per cent.
The north trunk road enters the district at the point where it crosses the Barnadi , and runs right through it ,a distance of 151 miles. The following is the list of marching stages: the figure in brackets shown the distance which each stage is from the next stage to the west: Mandaldai(16 miles) Dalgaon (14 miles), Orang (14 ½ miles )Dekiajuli (8 1/2 miles), Gabharu (10miles), Dipota (61/2 miles), Tezpur (6 ¼ miles) Jamuguri(12 miles), Chutia (7. ½ miles), Burigaon( 91/4 miles). Behali) 10 1/2) miles). Helem (9.1/2), Gohpur (91/4 miles). Kalabari(7 .1/2 mils). At each of these stage there is an inspection bungalow furnished with chairs, tables, and bedsteads. Bed clothes and mattresses, Kitchen utensils and crockery must be provided by the traveller.
There are altogether 420 miles of road kept up by the Local Boards of the district. These roads are are shown on the map appended to this volume, but the system is too complicted to admit of its being properly described in detail. The most important roads are the road that runs due north from Tezpur to Balipara. The road east of the Bhareli that runs parallel to but north of the trunk road as far as Behali, and the roads that run from the Brahmaputra to the norrth of Mangaldai. In Tezpur there are inspection bungalalows at goroimari and balipara, on the 5 th and 14th mile of the Tezup-Balipara road. In Mangaldai there are bungalows Kalaigaon, Nalbari, Odalguri, Bengbari, Shekhar, Silaikuchi,Patharughat, and Chinakona Most of the minor streams are spanned by timber bridges , but the traveller in Darrang is still often delayed by ferries. Even on the trunk road the following rivers are unbridged: the Barnadi, the Dhansiri, the Rowta, the Pachnai, the Gabharu, the Bhareli, the Bargang , and the Burai. In the dry weather the only river which are not fordable are the Barnadi, the DhanSiri, and the Bhareli, but in the rains all of them have to be crossed on ferry mars. These are formed by fastening two canoes, or two iron cylindera together, and buliding a timber platfrom on the top. Floating platfrom are very steady and any animal, short of an elephant, can be crossed on them. Generally speaking, the district is well supplied with the means of communication. The Brahmaputra is the great highway of commerce, and all that is required is a sufficient number of branch roads to connect it with the interior. East of Tezpur the trunk road, running as it does paralled to the river, carries little traffic. None of the the roads are metaled, and they are, in consequence, much cut up if largely used for carting in the rains. In proportion to its population there is no ditrict in the Province where carts are as numerous as in Darrang. In 1899, there were 3,500 of them, or four times the number found in the neighbouring district of Kamrup. Buffaloes are largely used as draught animals, especially in Magaldai.
Apart from the Brahmaputra, the rivers of the district are not much used for purposes of commerce. In the cold weather there is often little water in the channel; in the rains the current is generally too swift. They have, moreover, an uncomfortable way of changing their courses and overflowing their banks, a habit which tends to prevent the growth of villages in the immediate neighbourhood. In the rains a certain amount of traffic goes up the Dipota to Bindukuri, and up the Ghiladari and Marnai; in the cold weather these rivers not navigable for boats of four tons burthen. A vessel of that size can proceed up The Bhareli far as Balipara in the cold weather, and up to Namiri in the rains, but, as this river flows most of its course through, jungle, it carries little traffic. The Nanai and the Barnadi in Mangaldai are used to some extent as trade routes, and in the rains a large boat can proceeed up the latter river, as far as Malmuraghat, though in the cold weather it cannot generally get above Sonarikhat.
Post and telegraphs
The following statement statement shows what an enormous development there has been of postal business in Darrang since 1876 :-----
Number of post office in
Number of letters and post cards omitting thousands delivered in
Number of sevings bank account in
Balance at the credit of the depositors1
There were 22 post offices in 1904 against 2 in 1876, Wile the number of letters and postcards delivered in the former year is thirteen times the number handled in 1871. the savings bank has also made most satisfactory progress, and considering the low rate of interest given, and the scarcity of capital in the district, the volume of deposits is considerable. The figurtesfor 1872were returned after the bank had only been open for a few months, even then, on general grounds, the local officers were inclined to think that the experiment would prove a failure.The mail is carried to Darrang by steamer, and is distributed by runners throughout the district. Except in the case of post offices along the Tezpur-Balipara Rail way, which are served by rail. Statement B in the Appendix shows the places at which post and telegraph offices are situated.
* According to the statistical account of Assam, Vol. I, 159, only 1,386 letters' etc., were received, and 1,034
despatched from the district in 1861-62.
Commerce and Trade
The trade of Darrang is not of very much importance.Externel trade is carried on almost with Calcutta, and most of it enters and leaves the district by steamers. The principal exports are tea, mustard seed, rubber, hides, and canes, while the articles received in exchange are rice, gram, and other grains, kerosine and other oils , piece goods, machinery, hardware, and salt. A part from tea nearly all the export and export and import trade is in the hands of the marwari merchants, locally known as kaiyas, who are the great shopkeepers and money-lenders of the Assam Valley. They purchase their surplus products from the raiyats, and suppply them in return with cloth, thread, salt,oil, and, very often,opium. Tezpur is the principal trading centre of the district, and after Tezpur, but longo intervallo, comes Mangaldai. In these two places there are a certain number of Muhammadan shopkeepers from Eastern Bengal, who deal in general haberdashery and oilman's stores. A list of the villages in which there are there or more permanent shops will be found in the appendix. Each tea garden is also a small centre of trade, and on every estate there are one or two kaiyas shops.
Retail business is to a great extent transacted at weekly markets, which are generally held in the vicinity of the larger tea gardens. The articles offered for sale include rice and other grain, fruit and country vegetables, poultry, earthenware and metal vessels, oil molasses, tobacco, and cotton cloth. Two of the largest markets are hose at Amribari and Bindukuri, which, like most of these bazars, are held upon a Sunday. On the previous day lines of carts are to be seen coming in from the direction of Orang, laden with poultry. Rice, and other rural produce. Special trains are run from Tezpur to serve these hats, and are crowded with shopKeepers and their wares. Other considerable markets are those at Barjuli, at Paneri and kalaigaon in mangaldai, and at chutia-east of the Bhareli. A list of the places where markets are held will be found in the Appendix ( Statement D).
Transfrontier trade is carried on at the fairs held at Odalguri, and Ghagrapara ; and starting from these country. The principal imports are blankets, cattle, sheep, small shaggy ponies,wax, and musk; the chief exports are cotton twist and piece goods, rice, and silk cloth.
The Bhutias at one time did a considerable trade in salt at Odalguri, as they bartered it for rice with the villagers, at rates which were very favourable to themselves. The improvement in communications, and the opening of large and flouishing planations near Tezpur, produced a market change in the relative value of these two commodities. Liverpool salt became more accessible in the Kachari mauzas, and traders from Tezpur who came with their carts to make purchases at Odalguri and Orang sent up the price of rice. At one time the Kacharis willingly gave 15 seers of rice for one of salf, but,as the price of rice began to rise , the villagers com plained of the exactions of Bhutias, and at the durbar of 1886 the rate of exchange was fixed at 8 to 1. this rate was certainly high, but it was not enough for the Bhutias, and in the winter of 1888-89 they created some annoyance by leaving salt at the houses of the people, when the men were at work in the fields, and then demanding 12 or times its weight in rice. The matter was prompt ly settled by the Deputy Commissioner, who refused to pay the posa to the Gelengs, until they had signed an agreement, in which it was provided that the rate of exchange should be 4 to1. At this rate the export of salt is not very remunerative to the Bhutias , and there has in consequence been some falling of in trade at the Odalguri fair. Rubber is also imported from the dafla and aka Hills, but is generally taken direct to the kaiyas' shops.
In the Mangaldai subdivision fairs are held on the occasion of the Baisakh Bihu, which are attended by considerable numbers of villagers. A list of the places where the principal fairs are held will be found in Statement E. in the Appendix.
Tezpur is the only place in the district which has the smallest title to the name of town. It has already been suggested (page 22) that it is probably identical with Durjaya, the capital of the pala kings , and, if this assumption is correct, it must once have been a place of very considerable impotance . the existence of the magnificent temple ruins on the Bamuni hills, and the Massive pieces of carved stone which are found lying about the station, clearly show thata it was once the seat of a civilzed and powerful prince. But it was never the capital either of the Koch or Ahom kings, and at the time when we came into possession of the district it was nothing more then a small, unhealthy village. Even in 1872, it only hala population of 1,877 persons. Since that date it has grown with some rapidity, and the figures for the three last enumeration were-1881,2,910; 18914,011; and 1901, 5,047.
Tezpur is situated on the right bank of the right bank of the Brahmaputra in 260 37/ N.and 92 0 47/E. The north trunk road passes through the town, it is a port of call for river steamers, and a railway connects it with the country to the north. The houses of the European residents are built on low hills along the river bank, from which a magnificent view is to be obtained on a clear day of the Himalayan snows. Behind these hills there is a green maidan, dotted over with magnificent trees and tastefully laid out with plants and flowering shrubs. The native and business quarter is situated at the back.
The town was constituted a municipality under Act V.(B.C.) of 1876 in 1893. the munipal committee is composed of ten members, eight of whom are nominated by the Chief Commissioner, while the Deputy Commisioner, who acts as chairmen, and the Civil Surgeon, are ex-officio members of the board. A taxis levied at therate of 5 per cent on the annual value of holdings, which had an incidence of 6 annas 4 pie per head of population in 1903-04. from Table XVIII it will be seen that the Proportion of revenue raised by direct taxation is very small. Drinking water is obtained either from the Brahmaputra or from four excellent masonry wells. Nine miles of metalled and six miles of unmetalled road are maintained by the municipality.
Mangaldai is a village, which in 1901 had only 711 inhabitants, butit is the hearquarters of tbe subdivision, and contains the residence of the Subdivisionnal Officer. The public buildings include the magistrate's court, a small jail,a police station, and a dispensary. There is a small bazar, but the trade is not much importance. The village is situated on the left bank of the Mangdaldai river and immediately to the south there is a large chapori, or wide stretch of marshy country, reaching to the Brahmaputra.
In the early days of British administration there was little money available for public works of any kind, and what there was was generally expended under the cntrol of the public Works Department of the District Magistrate.
In 1872, the management of the district roads was entrusted to a committee presided over by the deputy Commissioner. The funds at their disposal were partly obtained from tolls and ferries on local roads and other miscellaneous sources, but principally from grants made by the Bengal Government from the amalgamated district road fund. In 1874, when 1874, when Assam was erected into a separate Administration, the Government of india assign ed oneseventeenth of the net landrevenue for local purposes. The district improvement fund was then Started, and the administration of its resources was as before entrusted to the Deputy Commissioner assisted by a committee. The actual amount placed at their disposal was not large. And in 1875-76 the total income of the district funds of the province was only Rs. 1,85,000, which was asmall sum in comparison with the twelve and a half lakhs of ruppees received by the Local Boards in 1903-04. in 1879, a Regulation was passed, providing for the levy of a local rate, and the appointment of a com mittee in each district to control the expenditure on roads, primary education, and the district post. Three years later the district committees were abolished by excutiveorder, and their place was taken by bords established in each subdivision, which are the local authorities in existence at the present day. The deputy Commissioner is chairmen of the board of the headquaters sub division, but the Mangaldai board is presided over by the Subdivisional Officer. The Local Boartds are entrusted with the maintenance of all roads within their jurisdiction,except a few main lines of communication jurisdiction, except a few main lines of communication , the provision and maintence of local staging bungalows and dispensaries, and the supervision of village santion, and the district post they are also in charge of primary education, subjectto the general control of the Education Department and are empowered to make grants- in- aid to schools of higher grade, subject to certain rules. For these purposes they have placed at their disposal the rate which is levied under the Assam Local rates Regulation of 1879 at the rate of one anna per rupee on the annual value of lands, as well as the surplus income of pounds and ferries , and some minor receipts. This income is supplemented by an annual grant from Provincial Funds. The principal heads of income and expenditure are shown in Table XVII. The annual budgents of the boards are submitted to the Commissioner for sanction. The estimates for all works costing Rs. 500 or over must submitted to the Public Works department for approvel,and important works, requiring much professional skill, are made over for execution to that departmen. Less important works are entrusted to the board overseers.