Land revenue- Native system –early settlements- the settlement of 1893- The growth of land revenue-Town lands –Established and fluctuating cultivation –Annual and periodic lenses- Settlement staff-Land tenure-Collection of land revenue-tahsildari and mauzadari system-Ares of unsettled waste-system of excise-Opium-Country spirit-Laopani- ganja-Income tax stamps- Public Works –Government-Administration of justice-Registration- volunteering –police-Jails –Education Medical aspects-Lunatic asylum-Surveys.

Land revenue- Native system

The revenue system in force under the Ahom kings was one of pesonal service . the whole of the adult male population was divided into bodies of three men called gots, each individual being stayed a paik. One paik out of the three was always engaged on labour for the state, and while so employed was supported by the remaining members of his got. In return for his labour each paik was allowed 8 bighas* of rupit land , and the land, occupied by his house and garden, which is now called basti, free of revenue. Any land taken up in excess of this amount was assessed at Re.0 -4-0 a bigha.. in addition to this the villagers paid a hearth tax of one rupee for each party cooking separately.

Buchanan Hamilton, writing in 1809, states that each pargana was let for term of years to a Chaudri, who Made what profit he could out of land held in excess of the Pink's free grants. The Chaudris are said to have retained for their own use three-fifths of the gross collection, and to have treated the raiyats in a very oppressive manner. The nominal rent per plough of land in Kamrup was Rs. 2, but the exactions of the Chudri raised it to Rs. 5 Rs. 7. The yield of a plough was said to be 79 maunds of mustard seed, and as estimates of yield prior to the era of crop experiments were genrally too high, the area of aplough was probably between four and five acres, and the rates exacted by the Chaudri must at thata time have seemed oppressive. These remarks have been quoted as in all probability the system prevailing in Darrang was not dissimilar from that existing in Kamrup.

Early settlement and settlement of 1868-69

North of the Brahmaputra, the whole of the profits of agriculture were, according to the same authority, absorbed by the Government or the hill tribes, each power sending a force, which took as much as possible from the cultivators. On the occupation of the country by the British, the system of compulsory was abolished and the paik land was assessed to revenue. The rates varied slightly from time to time, but prior to 1865 did not exceed 6 annas per bigha for rupit and 4 annas 6 pie for other kinds of land. In that year the Commissioner, Lieu tenant- Colonal Hopkinson, proposed to discriminate between basti or garden and other land and to raise the bigha rates to Rs.1 for basti, 10 annas for rupit,and 8 anns for other land. No detailed enquiries were made, there was no attempt to estimate the comparative value of the three different classes of land, there was no discrimination between good and bad land in the same clas or even between district and district. The revised rates were, however, so moderate that it was never seriously contended that they would have an oppressive incidence even on the worst land on which they were imposed.Colonel Hopkinson was of opinion that the existing assessment was ridiculously low, and in support of his opinion pointed out that in 1864-65 the receipts from opium were about 4 lakhs of rupees more than the total land revenue of his division, an excess which in those days resented a difference of about 40 per cent. The new assessment was successfully introduced in 1868-69, and in spite of the enormous enhancement the revenue was collected with difficulty.

The settlement of 1893-94

The next settlement was made in 1893. the three fold division of land was retained, but instead of imposing the same rate on all land of the same class throughout the district. The villages were divided in to four grades and the rates assessed varied with the grade of the village.* the villages were provisionally graded by the Director of Land Records and Agriculture, the class in which each village was placed being determined by the demand for land , and not by any intrinsic considartion of the value of the produce, the fertility of the soil, or the profits of cultivation. The demand for land was estimated by ascertaining the density of the population, the proportion of settled to unsettled land, and the proportion of fluctuating cultivation. These lists were sent to local were sent to local officers for examination, and were modified by them in view of the fertility of the soil, the facilities for bringing the produce to market, and the rents paid by subtenants where ascertainable . This enquiry was carried out by the ordinary district staff, within the space of a single cold weather, and the results obtained made no pretensions to scientific accuracy. Such accuracy was considered to be unneecssary, as it was not intended to impose anything like the maximum assessment on the land. The Government had no desire to assess up to its fair share of the value of the produce of the soil, and under these circumstances it was contended that it would that it would be waste of time and money to have recourse to any minute and elaborate classification of the soils, to crop experiments on a large scale, or to a close examination of all the elements that affect the net profits of the cultivator. The theory on which the settlement was based was that the worst lands were capable of bearing the assessment imposed, and that Government alone was a loser its inequalities.


* The following were the rates assessed per bigha:-


Class Basti Rupit Faringati
  Rs.a. Rs.a. Rs.0.
1st 1  6 1  0 0 12 per bigha.
2nd 1  4 0  14 0  10
3rd 1  2 0  12 0  9
4th 1  0 0  10 0  8



The growth of land revenue

The following statement shows the gradual expansion of the land revenue and the settled area since the

District first came under our administration:-















Not available










The figures for years in which a new settlement was introduced are printed in italics.

Town lands

Tezpur town was resettled for thirty years with effect from April 1899. the highest rates assessed per acre of trade site were Rs. 30 rising to Rs. 45 in the eleventh year ; and for each acre of residential land Rs. 18 rising to rs.24 Under the rules now in force waste land taken up for the first time within town limits is to be settled ordinarily for a term of thirty years, at a fair rent not exceeding the annual letting value of the site.the lease of the land applied for may, if the Deputy Commissioner thinks fit , be put up to auction and knocked down to the highest bidder. Land in Managaldai village is assessed at the rate of Rs. 2 per bigha.

Established and fluctuating cultivation

The system of cultivation in the district falls into two main heads, established and fluctuating . in the established area the staple crop is Sali or transplanted paddy, land is not readily resigned, and frequently possesses a considerable market value. In the fluctuating tracts the staple crops are mustard, pulse, and summer rice (ahu), and continual change is one of the essential elements of cultivation, the same field being seldom cropped for more than three years in succession. The fluctuating area is found near the Brahmaputra, and more especially at the western end of the district.

Annual and periodic leases

The bulk of the staple crops are grown is held direct from Government by the actual cultivators of the soil on annual or periodic leases. The periodic lease confers a right re-settlement and a heritable and transferable title. Annual leases merely authorize the occupation of the land for a single year, though in practice the rights of transfer, inheritance, and re-settlement are recognized. The only drawback of the annual leases merely auhorize the occupation of the land for a single year, though in practice the transfer,inheritance, and re-settlement are recognized. The only drawback of the annual lease lies fact that if the land happens to be required by Government , it can be resumed without payment of compensation to the occupant. Land held under either from of lease or any individual field within the holding can be resigned, on formal notice of the fact being given to the Collector.

The Mandal

The basis of the land revenue system is the mandal the village accountant and surveyor, who draws a modest stipend ranging from RS.8 to Rs. 12 per mensem. In March, he proceeds to his circle, inspects the fields which have been formally resigned to see whether they have been actually relinquished , tests the boundaries of fields taken up in recent years to see whether they are in accordance with the map, and surveys land which has been broken up for what is called the regular settlement or for which a formal application has been filed. His two principal registers are the dagchitha , in which particulars are entered for each field within the village, and the jamabandi or rent roll, which classifies the fiels by holdings and shows the area covered by each lease.During the hot weather he is occupied with the revision of his maps and registers, and the preparation of his leases When the winter comes, he again proceeds to the field, distributes the leases he has prepared, and surveys the land which has been broken up since his former tour, and which is included in what is Known as the dariahadi or supplementary settlement. He is also required to prepare statistics of the area under different crops, he assists in the collection of the revenue, and is often ordered to report on local disputes connected with the land. In most Provinces in India a settlement is settlement is concluded for a term of years.During its currency no land which is held on lease can be resigned, and there is not as a rule any ap preciable quantity of waste land to be taken up. The state of affairs in Darrang is very different. In 1902-03 the total settled area was 426,827 acres, the area excluded from settlement was 17,211 acres, and the area of land included 27,639 acres. It must not, however, be supposed that this kaleidoscpic shifting of the fields is taking place in every portion of the district, and that everywhere may be seen the spectacle of cultivated land becoming jungle and jungle land changing into fields of waving rice. In the established portion land is seldom given up, but in the fluctuating area, as has been already explained, it is less trouble to burn the jungle and break up new land every second or third year, than to clean the fieldsof the weeds which spring up after they have been two or three tims cropped.

Superior settlement staff

Above the mandal comes the supervisor kanungo, a peripatetic officer on pay ranging from Rs.30 to Rs. 40 who both in the field and in the office. The superior revenue officers are called sub-deputy Collectors and draw salaries ranging from Rs. 100 to Rs. 200 per mensem.the appointments are usually made by selection from candidates, who must be of good physique and moral character, of respectable family, under 25 years of age, and must either have taken a university degree or have read up to that standard.

The total sanctioned staff for the Darrang district is two sub-deputy collectors those employed as tahsildars, eight supervisor kanugoes, and 146 mandals.

Land tenures

The different tenures in the district fall under two main classes (1) those under which land is held for the cultivation of ordinary crops, and(2)those under which grants have been made for the growth of tea or other crops,which are not included amongst the ordinary staples of the Province, and which require a considerable amount of capital for their production. The bulk of the included in the first class settle under the ordinary rules at full rates, but there are also considerable areas of revenue free (lakhiraj) land and land settled at half rates (nisfikhiraj). In the time of Ahom kings the whole of this land is said to have been held rent free, but in 1834 the Government of India ruled that "all rights to hold lands free of assessment founded on grants made by any former Government must be considered to have been canceled by the British conquest. All claims therefore for restoration to such tenures can rest only on the indulgence of Government without any right," Mr.David Scott, the first British Commissioner of Assam,Found that,even under the Ahom Rajas, these revenue free lands had been assessed at the rate of five annas a pura,* and he imposed this cess, which was subsequently raised to eight annas, upon them. The Government of India then directed that an enquiry should be instituted into these claims, and that all cases in which land was held on bona fide grants dating from before the time of the Burmese conquest, or on account of services which were still performed should be reported to them for orders, these instructions were not fully observed by the Commissioner of that time, Captain (subsequently General) Jenkins.this officer, for reasons which have never been ascertained, drew a broad distinction between debottar or temple lands and brahmottar and dharmottar lands, i.e., lands which were devoted to some religious purpose but were not actually the property of a temple. The former he released from all claims for revenue, on the latter he imposed the rate assessed by Mr. Scott, which happened to be half the full rates prevailing at the time. No report was submitted to the Government of India and no final orders were received from them, but the right of the former class of proprietors to hold free of revenue, and of the latter at half the usual rates , has been definitely recognised. Waste land included within the boundaries of nisfi-khiraj estates is at present assessed at 1 anna 3 pies per bigha,and as the proportion of uncultivated land in thses estates is fairly high, this assessment adds considerably to the gross demand. The total area of lakhiraj land in the district in 1903-04 was 5,071 Acres and of nisfi-khiraj land 31,058 acres, the area settled year by year at full rates is shown in the appendix.

* A pura= 4 bighas, 3.025 bighas= 1 acre

Grant of land for cultivation of special crops

Two sets of rules were in force for grant of land for tea prior to 1862. the underlying principal in each case was the land should be held on long leases, at low but progressive rates of revenue, and that precautions should be taken against land speculation by the imposition of clearance conditions. Between 1862 and 1876, the fee simple tenure of waste land grants was put up to auction at an up to auction at an upset price of Rs.2-8-0 an acre, which in 1874 was raised to Rs.8 the holders of grants under the earlier rules of 1838 and 1854 were allowed to purchase a fee simple tenure by payment of twenty times the revenue then due, provided that the clearance conditions had been carried out. Advantage was very generally taken of this concession, and there is no longer in the district any land held under the rules of 1838 and only 293 acres under the rules of 1854,while there are 52,197 acres held on fee simple tenure. The existing rules came into force in 1876. the land is sold at an upset price of Re. 1 per acre, for through it is nominally put up to auction there is no record in which more than one applicant appeared to bid. For two years the grant remains revenue free, and the rates gradually rise to 8 annas an acre in the eleventh, and one rupee in the twenty- first year. The lease runs for 30 years, and when it expires the land is liable to reassessment , the total area settled under these rules will be found in Table XV in the appendix.

Collection of land revenue

The collection of ordinary land revenue was first introduced in Darrang in 1833. the lands in each village were measured up by an amin, leases were issued to the raiyats, and an officer, called the patghiri, was made responsible for the collection of the revenue. In 1841-42 a new experiment was tried. Settlement was made with the patghiri for a term of years, and he was held responsible for any losses that might occur, but was allowed to absorb any profits that accrued from the extension of cultivation. This system proved, however, to be unsatisfactory, and was abandoned, and recourse was again had to the annual settlement, under which the fiscal officer was only responsible for the collection of the revenue. The experiment was also tried of farming out the chapori mahals to the highest bidder, but it was found that the cultivators were oppressed, and their holdings were accordingly settled with them direct. The cost of collection was, however, heavy The patghiri or fical officer, received as remuneration 10 per cent of the collection, and was assisted by a kakati, who received 5 per cent. To this must be added the cost of a considerable number of chaukidars, each of whom received 16 bighas of rent free land.*

Larger mauzas and tahsils

In 1853, there were no less than 149 mauzas in Darrang, containing on an average 14 villages with a revenue of R.s 1,215. the general tendency since that date has been to increase the size of the unit of collection. In 1867, the mauzadars, as the collecting officers Were called, received 15 per cent of the revenue as commission, and were allowed half the revenue of land reclaimed during the currency of the settlement. Three years later their commission was reduced to 10 per cent, and in 1872 the further restriction was imposed that this 10 per cent could only be drawn on the first Rs. 6,000of revenue, 5 per cent being allows on revenue in excess of that sum. In 1883, the idea gained ground that Government would do better by putting the mauzadarasideand employing salaried as a collecting agency. Mauzas were accordingly. Amalgamated and placed in charge of an official called a tahsildar, who was remunerated by a fixed salary, and was exempted from the responsibility imposed upon the mauzadar of paying in the revenue on the due dates. Irrespective of the amounts actually collected by him. The first tahsil was opened at Tezpur in 1884. then, in 1886, came Hindughopa, subsequently transferred to Patharughat; Kalaigaon in 1888 ; and Mangaldai in 1892. These three tahsils are all situated in the southern and central par of the Mangaldai subdivision. The last tahsil to be opened was the one at Chutia, east of the Bhareli, in 1893. this arrangement left about 30 per cent of the land revenue demand to be collected by mauzadars.

Comparative advantages of tahsildars and mauzadars

The tahsildari system is cheaper than that of collection through mauzadars, the cost in one case being about 5 per cent, in the other 7 per cent of the gross amount realized. Serious difficulties are, however, experienced in dealing direct with such a large body of raiyats, and there is no doubt that the tahsil system is not as popular with the people as the one which it replaced. A mauzadar of experience knows whether delay in payment is due to shortness of funds or to recalcitrancy ; he knows the time which is most convenient for payment in individual cases, and as he he is not bound by the kist dates his collection admits of an elasticity which no Government rules can establish. It has the further advantage of providing a body of representative men, who, while regarded by the people as their leaders, are bound to the Government by the facts of their position. It has accordingly been decided to try the experiment of gradually breaking up the tahsils and substituting in their place mauzadars, who will be entrusted with the duty of collecting from Rs.20,000 to Rs.30,000 of revenue.

Compulsory realisation of revenue

The revenue demand on account of the regular settlement is due in two intallments, three- fifths on January in those villages which meet the Government demand from the sale of mustard and pulse, when it is due in one installment on March 15 th. The demand on account of the supplementary settlement settlement is also due in one installment on that date. In 1903- 04, notice of demand * was on account of 10 per cent of the total land revenue demand, but it was only necessary . to attach property on on account of 2 per cent of the demand. The number of cases in which it was necessary to have recourse to sale was very small, and the revenue on Account of which property was sold only represented 0.1per cent of the total demand

Area of unsettled waste

The figures in the margin shown the total area of the district as reported by the assistant Square miles.

Total area of the district 3,418
Settled area 667
Area of reserved forests 321
Area of waste land 2,430


Surveyor –general , Calcutta, the settled area and the area of reserved forests in 1902-03, and the area of waste land at the disposal of Government in that year. No less than 71 per cent of the area of the district falls in the latter category, but it must be supposed that the whole of this area is fit for cultivation habitation. The figures include the area of roads, and of tracts that are permanently under , which in Darrang with its networks of rivers draining into the mighty Brahmaputra amounts to a very considerable total. It also includes the area of marshes which are submerged during the rainy season, and are hardly fit for permanent habitation, and of land which is too high or barren to be fit for the growth of food crops. It is useless to attempt to from any estimate of the proportion of the unsettled area in which cultivation could be carried on with profit, and it is hardly necessary to do so, as it is obvious that the district could support a very much larger population than it now possesses.

The unsettled area in each tahsil and mauza is still enormous. Details will be found in Table XV A

System of excise Opium

More than three-fourths of the excise revenue of Darrang is usually obtained from opium. Prior to 1860, no restriction was placed upon the cultivation of the poppy. The evil effects of unrestrained indulgence in opium were undeniable, and in that year poppy cultivation was prohibited; and the drug was issued from the treasury, the price charged being Rs 14 a seer. This was raised to Rs. 20 in 1862, Rs. 22 in from opium. Prior to 1860, no restriction was placed upon the cultivation of the 1863, Rs. 23 in 1873, Rs. 24 in 1875, Rs. 32 in 1883, and Rs.37 in 1890 , the price at which it now stands while Assam was under the Bengal Government licenses for the retail vend of opium were issued free of charge. In 1874, a fee of Rs. 12 per annum was levied on each shop , and in the following year it was raised to Rs.18. Between 1877 and 1883, the right to sell opium in a particular mahal was put up to aucfrom opium. Prior to 1860, no restriction was placed upon the cultivation of the tion, but this system was found t be unsatisfactory, and in the latter year the individual shop were sold, as is done at the present day. The general result of the Government policy has been to enormously reduce the facilities for obtaining the drug. In 1873-74, there were in the district 856 shops for retail vend of opium ; thirty years later there were only 100.


The following figures for consumption show the extent to which the use of opium has been affected by the raising of the duty : 1873-74,237 maunds; 1879-80, 275 maunds ; 1879-80 shows a large increase over the figures of 1873-74, but some exceptional cause was apparently in operation in the latter year as the average annual consumption between 1875 and 1880 was only 248 maunds.

The Quantity of opium issued in 1899-1900 was 28 per cent less than this average of 20 years before. This decrease is probably due to a reduction in the number of shops, to an increase in the rate of duty by 13 rupees a seer, and to the fact that the price of opium is now so high that non-consumers have a very district induce meant to abstain from taking an expensive habit.

In 1835, the retail price of opium was reported by the collector, Mr. Mathie, to be Rs.5 seer. Since 1890, it has ranged from Rs. 40 to Rs. 50 a seer, and it is obvious that such an enormous increase in the price must have a very perceptible effect upon consumption.

About three-fifths of the total quantity of opium taken by the district is consumed in Mangaldai , where the drug is much in favour amongst the Kachari population.

Way in which opium is taken

Opium is generally swallowed in the from of pills or mixed with water and drunk. Madak is made by mixing boiled opium with pieces of dried leaf, and stirring it over the fire. The compound is then rolled up into pills and smoked. Chandu is made out of opium boiled with water till the water has all evaporated, and is smoked like madak in the form of pills. Opium is not generally smoked in Assam, and this form of taking the drug is usually supposed to be more injurious than when it is simply swallowed.

The outstill system is still in force in the district, that is to say, the right to manufacture and sell spirit at A paricular locality is put up to auction, and no attemptis made to levy duty on the actual quantity of spirit distilled. The abstract in the margin shows that during the last twenty years of the century there was a considerable increase in the revenue derived from country spirits.


Year Number of shops Revenue
1873-1874 11 Rs
1879-1880 18 1,457
1889-1890 21 19,094
1899-1900 15 48,327


Between 1881 and 1901, the foreign population of the district, and it is the foreigners who consume the bulk of the coutry spirit sold, increased four and a half fold. In spite of this, the facilities for obtaining liquor very considerably reduced. The revenue realized depends upon the amount of competition when the shops are put up to auction. In a sparsely populated district like Darrang there were few representatives of the liquor trading classes, and the vendors were thus enabled to absorb an unduly large proportion of the profits. To wards the end of the century efforts were made to ensure that the liquor vendors should pay a substantial sum for their licenses, though the number of shops was reduced by 29 per cent.

The attention of the administration has been more than once directed to the discovery of the most effective means of discouraging a taste for drinking, but one of the most serious obstacles to improvement lies in the fact that if the supply of licensed liquor is cut off, rice beer and spirit can be readily manufactured by the people. Complaints have been received of excessive drunkenness on tea gardens, which were situated far beyond the reach of any licensed liquor shop. The outstill system is not theoretically the most desirable, but owing to the difficulty of communications, and the facilities that exist for the manufacture of illicit liquor, it has not yet been found possible to introduce any more satisfactory method in its place. The following measures have recently been introduced with the object of reducing as far as possible the evils attendant on the liquor trade. A special excise establishment has been entertained , the vendor is required to arrange for an abundant supply good drinking water near his shop, and his license can be withdrawn if he is twice convicted of allowing drunkenness and disorderly conduct near the still. The liquor shops which do the largest business are situated at Balipara, Tezpur, Harka, and Sakomati.

Country spirit. The still

Country spirit is manufactured by native methods, and generally in what is known as the open still. The apparatus employed consists of a large brass or copper retort, which is placed over the fire, to the top of which is fitted the still head, a compound vessel, part of which is made of earthen ware and part of brass. The wash is placed in the retort, and as it boils in the from of vapour into the still head, over the outer surface of which a stream of cold cold water is continually kept flowing. As the vapour cools it is precipitated in the from of liquid, and is carried off by a bamboo tube into a vessel placed at the side. The mouth of this tube is open, and the spirit trickles from it into the vessel beneath, so that the outer air has access by this channel into the still head and retort in which the process of distillation is going the closed still the vapour passes down two tubes into two receivers, where it is cooled and condenses into liquid. These tubes are so fixed to the receivers, where it is cooled and condenses into liquid. These tubes are so fixed to the receivers that the air cannot have access to the spirit, and though distillation does not proceed so rapidly, the liquor produced is stronger than that obtained from the open still.

Material employed

The material employed is generally the flower of the flower of the mohwa tree (bsssia tatifolia) which contains a very large proportion of sugar, but its place is sometimes taken by molasses and rice. The following are the proportion in which these ingredients are generally mixed: mohwa 30 seers and water 60 seers; or mohwa 25 seers, molasses 5 seers, and water 60 seers; or boiled rice 20 seers, molasses 10 seers, and water 80 seers. Bakhar, a substance compoed of leaves, roots, and spices, whose actual ingredints are not divulged by the villagers who manufacture it, is frequently added, to the wash, which is put to ferment in barrels. Fermentation takes three or four days in summer and a week in the cold weather, and the wash is then considered to be ready for the still. The process of distillation takes about three hours. A retort of 40 gallons yields two gallons of spirit in an hour and three gallons in two hours and a quarter, and four gallons in three hours. The best and strongest spirit comes off first, and in the case of a brew of 30 seers of mohwa, the first 3 2/1 gallons will be classed as phul if they are at once drawn off from the receiver. If they are allowed to remain while two more gallons are distilled, the whole 5 2/1 gallons will be classed as bangla. The exact Proportions very, however, at the different shop, some distillers taking 4 2/1 gallons of phul or 5 4/1 gallons of bangla from 30 seers of mohwa. Occasionally only two gallons of spirit are distrilled from 30 seers of mohwa, Occassionlly only two gallons of spirit are disstilled from 30 seers mohwa, and the liquor is then called thul, is very strong, and is sold for one or two rupees a quart . Thul is also sometimes made by redistilling bangla. Only one kind of liquor is generally taken from each distillation as if the thul or phully were removed, the spirit subsequently distilled would be not only weak but impure. Strong liquor watered to reduce it to a lower strength is not considered palatable,and it seems to be the usual practice to distil the liquor at the actual strength at which it will be sold. One disadvantage of the cheaper kind of liquor is that it will not keep, and in four or five weeks it is said to lose all its spirituous qualities.


Laopani or rice beer is the national drink of the unconverted tribes, and a special name, modahi, is applied to those who have to some extent attorned to Hinduism but have not yet abandoned their ancestral liquor. It is also taken by some of the humble Hzindi castes,and is largely used by garden coolies if facilities are not afforded to them for obtaining country spirit . the following is the usual system of manufacture followed : the rice is boiled and spread on a mat, and bakhar is powdered and sprink led over it. After about twelve hours it is transferred to an earthen jar, the mouth of which is closed, and left to ferment for three or four days. Water is then added and allowed to stand for a few hours, and the beer is at last considered to be ready. The usual proportions are 5 seers of rice and 3 chattaks of bakhar to some 8 or 10 quarts of water, and the liquor produced is said to be much stronger than most European beers. Liquor is often illicitly distilled from laopani or boiled rice, by a simple method. An earthen pot with a hole in the bottom is the pot over the hole. The vapour rises into the upper of the two jars, condenses against the cold cone, with which the mouth is closed,and falls in the from spirit on to the saucer beneath. Care must of course be taken to see that the various cracks are closed against the passage of the spirituous vapour, but this can easily be be done with strips of cloth.


Ganja is usually mixed with water, kneaded till it be comes soft, cut into small strips, and smoked. Wild ganja grows very freely in Assam, but it is doubtful whether it is much used except as a medicine for cattle. It does not produce such strong effects as the ganja of Rajshash, but the leaves are sometimes dried and mixed with milk, water, and sugar to from a beverage. Ganja is not much used except by foreigners, and from Table XVI it will be seen that the revenue raised from this drug is comparatively small, and that most of it is obtained from the sadr subdivision. It is imported from Rajshahi in bond by a wholesale dealer who pays a duty of Rs. 11 per seer when issuing it for sale to the retail vendors. The right of retail sale is put up to auction.

Income Tax

The total receipts under the head of income tax in 1903-04 amounted to 15,654, twothirds of which were derived from the salaries of garden managers and their staff. The receipts under the head of other sources of income amounted to Rs.2,2112 paid by 74 persons. About three- fourths of this was paid by 60 dealers in piece goods, the head under which the general merchant who sells grain, oil, salt and other miscellaneous articles is classified. Some of the largest firms of Kaiyas are, however, assessed in Calcutta on the profits that they make in Darrang. The only other assesses under this part were five pleaders , five pleaders, five mauzadars, three graziers and a liquor seller. The assessment lists are annuall revised by the tahsildars and mauzadars, and notices issued on those concerned to show cause if they desire to do so. Darrang is a progressive district, and the receipts under this head of revenue steadily increased from Rs. 12,300 in 1888 to Rs. 21,300 in 1900. the marked decrease which occurred in 1904 was chiefly due to the fact that the minimum taxable income was raised from Rs. 500 to 1,000 per annum by act XI of 1903.


The receipts under the head of judicial and non judicial stamps are considerably lower those obtain ed from any other district in the plains except Nowgong. In 1903-04, they amounted to Rs.25,577 under the former head, as compared with Rs. 17,568 in Nowgong, the lowest district in the plains, and Rs. 4,04,169 in Sylhet. The corresponding figures for non-judicial stamps were Rs. 6,396, Rs.3,923, and Rs. 3,923, and Rs.1,51,623 respectively.

Public works

Public works are in charge of an Executive or Assistant Engineer, who acts as Engineer of the Nowgong district and is usually assisted by two upper and four lower subordinates.

The public works Department are entrusted with the construction of all the large public buildings . the most important are the jail, the public offices, schools, and post and telegraph officers at district and subdivisional headquarters, circuit houses, dak bungalows, and inspection bungalows on provincial roads. Inspection bungalows on other roads are maintained by the Local Boards. The provincial roads, which are directly under the department, are a section of the north trunk road, 151 miles in length. From Dumnichaki to Howhajan and the the road from Mangaldai to the steamer ghat.

It has already been explained that Local Board works that require professional skill or engineering knowledge are usually made over to the Executive Engineer foe execution. The principal difficulties with which the department has to contend are the absence of an artizan class, and the scarcity and the scarcity and dearness of unskilled labour. It is to these two cases that the heavy cost public works in Darrang is largely due.


For general administrative purposes the district is divided into two subdisions. Tezpur is under the Immediate charge of the Deputy Commissioner , and Mangaldai is entrusted to an Assistant Magistrate,who is almost invariably a European.

The Deputy Commissoner is allowed one subordinate magistrate and a sub-deputy collector as his assistants, and a second magistrate and a sub-deputy collector are usually posted at Mangaldai.

Criminal and civil justice

Appeals lie to the Deputy Commissioner from the orders passed by magistrates of the second or third class,and from the orders of first class magistrates to the Judge of the Assam Valley. Appeals from the Judge lie to the High Court of Judicature at Fort William in Bengal. In 1902, there were six stipendiary and two honorary magis trates in the district, and the former decided 943 and the latter 101 original criminal cases. In the course of these proceedings 2,847 witnesses were examined. Altogeter there were 1,159 cases under the Indian penal code returned as true, the immense majority of which were either offenses against property or against the human body. The people are as whole lawabiding and there is not much serious crime in Darrang , and most of these offenses were either petty assaults or thefts of small sums.

The civil work in Darrang is lighter than in any other district in the plains and the Deputy Commissioner acts as sub- judge, while one of the assistant magistrates in each subdivision discharges the functions of a munsif. In 1902, the sub-judge heard three original cases and seven appeals , while 1,098 original suits were disposed of by The munsifs. Almost all of these cases were simple money suits and more than three – fourths of them were disposed of without contest further details with regard to criminal and civil business will be found in Table XI.


The Deputy Commissioner is also the Registrar of the district and one of the assistant magistrates magistrates act as sub registrar in each subdivision. The number of documents registered is, however, very small, and in 1903 only amounted to 377 ; a fact which shows in a very striking manner, how extremely simple is the economic organisation of Darrang.


A crops of mounted infantry was first enrolled in Darrang in 1887, with a strength of 70 members. Four years later the volunteers in the four upper districts of the valley were formed into one corps known as the Assam Valley Mounted Rifles, and in 1896 the Mounted Rifles, were converted into Light Horse. The strength of the corps in 1903 was 312, 72 of whom were residing in Darrang.


The civil police are in charge of a District or assistant Superintendent of police. The sanctioned strength consists of 2 inspectors, and 221 hundred and two smooth bore Martinis are allotted to Darrang , and a reserve of men is kept up at the district and subdivisional headquarters who are armed with these weapons and are employed on guard and escort duty. Up –countrymen, Nepalese, and members of aboriginal tribes are usually deputed to this work , though attempts are made to put all the constables through an annual course of musketry. The district is fairly free from serious crime and rural police are not employed, such assistance as is necessary being given by the village elders or gaoburas. In addition to their regular duties in connection with the prevention and detection of crime, the policeare required to check the returns of vital statistics, manage pounds,enquire into cases in which death has not been due to natural causes, to furnish guards and escorts, and to serve all processes in warrant case . Table XX in the appendix shows the places at which there are investigating centres and the strength of officers and men maintained at each.

Military Police.

A detachment , consisting of a native officer and 33 non-commissioned officers and men of the Lakhimpur military police battalion, is stationed at Tezpur throughout the year. For six months in the cold weather detach ments, consisting of two noncommissioned officers and twelve men, are posted at Daimara and Ghagrapara in the north of Mangaldai , while from January to March the fort at Odalguri, near the gorge through which the Dhansiri leaves the hills, is occupied by 45 non commissioned officers and men under a native officer. This post was formerly held by a detachment from the regiment in Shillong, but the the health of the sepoys was injuriously affected, and in 1902 it was decided that the work should be made to the military police. The men of the battalion are armed with Martini Henry Rafles mark IV, kukris, and bayonets.


There is a jail at Tezpur with accommodation for 226 convicts. The prisoners generally enjoy fairly good Health, and in the twenty years ending with 1900 there were only three in which the number of deaths exceeded 10 and the death rate 70per mille. * Convicts sentenced to hard labour are usually employed on oil pressing bamboo and cane work, carpentry, weaving, brick making, and gardening. The jail premises cover an area of nearly two acres. Most of the wards have three walls of brick and the fourth of whole bamboos: the roof is generally of thatch. At Mangaldai there is a small with accommodation for 26 convicts. The prisoners are generally employed on gardening or oil pressing and are not detained in this jail for more than three months, convicts with a longer term being sent to Tezpur.


During the first half of the nineteenth century the condition of education in Bengal was bad enough, but in Assam it was even worse. In 1835, the District Magistrate of Darrang reported that there were only three small public schools in the district and few private school, and described the state of education as " deplorable .†" In 1847-48, there were 8 primary schools in the district. The next few years witnessed very little progress, as on the occasion of Mr. Mill's visit in 1853 there were only 9 schools of all gardes. 1874-75 is the first year which complete statistics are available, and following abstract shows the progress of education since that year. Figures for years subsequent to 1900-01 will be found in the appendix.



No of




No of



Pupils Total no of pupils

No of

persons in

district to


1874-75 6 315 78 1,916 2,231 106    
1880-81 8 569 95 2,540 3,109 88 14.56 0.28
1890-91 6 536 126 3,013 3,549 87 14.59 0.30
1900-01 5 599 149 4,694 4,694 72 17.62 0.43


Secondary education

The schools of the district are divided into five distinct grades, high, middle English, middle vernacular, upper primary, and lower primary. High schools are those institutions which are recognised by the Calcutta University as capable of affording suitable preparation for the Entrance Examination. The boys are taught from their education up to the Entrance course as prescribed by the University of Calcutta, but many leave school without completing the course. Till recently English was taught in all the classes. The boys in the longer learn that language, but the standard of instruction is higher than that prevailing in lower secondary(middle) schools. English is the medium of instruction in the first four classes of high schools ; in the lower classes and in other schools the vernacular is employed. The couse of instruction at middle English and middle vernacular schools is middle vernacular schools is the same, with the exception that English is taught in the former and not in the latter. The following are the subjects taught in the middle vernacular course ; (1) Assamese , comprising literature, grammar And composition,(2) history of India, (3) geography, (4) arithmetic,(5)elements of Euelid (book I), mensuration of plane surfaces and surfaces and rveying,(6) simple lessons on botany and agriculture. There are high schools at Tezpur and Mangaldai, and middle schools at Tezpur, Chutia, and Sipajhar.

Primary education is again divided into upper and lower, but the proportion of boys in upper primary schools is less than three per cent of the total number,and this class of school, like the middle vernacular, is slowly cying out. The course of study in lower primary includes reading , writing, dictation, simple arithmetic, and the geography of Assam. In upper primary schools the course is somewhat more advanced, and includes part of the first book of Euclid, mensuration, and a little history. The standard of instruction given still leaves much tio be desired, but efforts have been recently made to improve it, by raising the rates of pay given to the masters. Fixed pay is now awarded at average rates of Rs. 8 per mensem for certificated and Rs. 5 per mensem for uncertificated teachers, supplemented by capiation grants at rates ranging from 3 annas to 6 annas for pupils in the three highest classes. The inspecting staff consists of two Deputy Inspectors of Schools.

Medical. The civil surgeon.

The district is in the medical charge of the Civil surgeon who is stationed at Tezpur. It contains ten dispensaries and the supervision of the work done at these institutions is one of the most important duties of the Civil Surgeon. He also acts as Superintendent of the jail and of the Lunatic Asylum, controls and inspects the vaccination department, and is required to visit and report on all tea gardens on which the death rate for the previous year has exceeded 7 per cent.

Unsanitary character of villages.

It has already been suggested I the chapter on population that there may be something in the climate, the sub-soil level of the water, or some other factor which for the present remains obscure, which is prejudicial to life and health, but there can be no doubt that the conditions under which the people pass their days are not conducive to a long mean duration of life. Their houses are small, dark, and ill-ventilated, and the rooms in summer must be exceedingly close and oppressive. They are built upon low mud plinths, and are in consequence extremely damp, and the inmates instead of sleeping on beds or bamboo platforms,which would cost them nothing to provide, often pass the night on a mat on the cold floor. Their attire, which is suitable enough for the warm weather, offers but a poor resistance to the cold and fogs of winter, and many lives are annually lost from diseases induced by chills, which might have been avoided by the purchase of a cheap woolen jersey. The house are buried in groves of fruit trees and bamboos , which afford in deed a pleasant shade, but act as an effective barrier to the circulation of the air. And increase the humidity of the already overhumid atmosphere. Sanitary arrangements there are none, the rubbish is swept up into a corner and allowed to rot with masses of decaying vegetation, and the complete absence of latrines renders the neighbour hood of the village a most unsavoury place. The Water- supply is generally bad, and is drawn either from shallow holes, from rivers,or from tanks in which the villagers wash their clothes and persons. All of these are undoubtedly factors which contribute to produce a high mortality,and nearl of them could be eliminated.

Vital statistics.

Vital statistics are reported by the gaobura or village headmen, to the mandal of the circle; this report being in theory submitted every second week. In practice they were received at much longer intervals as the gaobura was an unpaid servant of Government and not very amenable to discipline. It has recently been decided to allot to each gaobura2 2/3 acres of land revenue free, and it will now be possible to enforce a stricter adherence to the rules. Between 1891 and 1901, the mean recorded birth rate was 26 per miles, and the death rate 38 per milles, but neither of these rates can be accepted as correct. The statistics of age recorded at the census are, however, so unreliable, and the disturbing effect of immigrants so great, that it is not possible to fix a normal birth and death rate for the district.

Causes of mortality

Fever and bowel complaints are the forms which death most often takes in Darrang ,at Cholera death rate per mille.

1878 17.6
1886 8.3
1889 9.0
1891 11.9
1892 6.2
1895 6.0
1900 9.6
Death rate all causes, England
1901 16.9


Any rate as according to the official returns. These returns are,how even , so inaccurate and so little reliance can be placed on the diagnosis of the reporting agency, that the figures hardly repay examination. Most fatal illnesses are accompanied by a rise in temperature, and the villagers are in consequence very prone to ascribe every prone to ascribe every death to fever. Epidemics of cholera from time to time produce a high mortality, for though it is apparently endemic in the district, it occasionally breaks out with quite exceptional violence. The abstract in the margin shows the recorded death rate from this cause in the years when cholera was most prevalent, and for the purposes of comparison the deatherate in England from all causes in 1901 is added. In 1878, the recorded death rate from this disease alone exceeded the total death rate of England in 1901. small –pox also appears from time to time in a virulent from. The highest death rate recorded from this cause in recent years was 3 per mille in 1899. the people do not seem to fully appreciate the advantage conferred by vaccination, and during the five years ending with 1902- 03, only 33 per mile were on the average annually protected hich was 11 per miles less than the average for the Province as a whole. Dysentery and diarrhea are common, and so are worms and various forms of skin disease.Goitra is common in villages situated on the banks of river , near the point at which they issue from the hills; elephantiasis is rare. Venereal disease is common amongst the immigrant population, but not amongst the Assamese.

Kala azar.

The most deadly lethal agent in the district has, how ever, been the mysterious form of fever known as kalaazar. The following account of this disease is extracted from the Report on the Census of Assam in 1901.

"when first referred to in the Sanitary Reports of the province, it is described as an intense from of malarial poisoning , which was popularly supposed to be contagious. The Civil Surgeon of Goalpara, however, rejected the theory of contagoion,and in 1884 expressed the opinion that Kala-azar was simply a local name for mararial fever and its consequences. In 1889-90 a specialist (Surgeon-Captain Giles)was appointed to investigate both Kala azar and so- called beri-beri of coolies, and he rapidly came to the conclusion that kala-azar and beri-beri were merely different names for anchylostomiasis, and that the mortality was due to the ravages of the dochmius duodenalis, a worn which lives in the small intestine. This theory corresponded with the observed facts to the extent that it admitted, what at that stage of the enquiry could hardly be denied that kala-azar was communicable , the uncleanly habits of the natives of the province affording every facility for the transfer of the ova of the parasite from the sick to the healthy; but the support which was given to Dr. Giles' views by local medical opinion was withdrawn when major Dobson proved by a series of experiments that anchylostoma were present in varying numbers in no less than 620 out 797 healthy persons examined by him . in 1896, Captain Rogers was placed on special duty to make further investigations, and, in addition to demon strating various differences of a more or less technical character in the symptomatology of two diseases,he pointed out that, whereas kala-azar was extremely inimical to life, the number of cases of anchylomiasis that terminated fatally was by no means large. The conclusion to which this specialist came, after a very careful enquiry , was that the original view was correct, and that kala-azar was nothing but a very intense from of malarial fever, which could be communicated from the sick to the healthy, anopinion which was to a extent endorsed by the profession in Assam, successive Principal Medical declaring that whatever kala-azar was, it had been abundantly proved that it was not anchylostomiasis. The suggestion that malaria could be communicated did not, however, commend itself to the entire medical world, and was criticised with some severity, Dr. Giles writing s recently as 1898- ‘Dr. Rogers, like a medical Alexander, cute his Gordian knot by announcing that Assamese malaria is infectious. In this he places himself at variance with not only the scientific but the popular opinion of the entire world.' A complete change in popular and scientific opinion was, however,brought about by the development of Manson's mosquito theory,and Major Ross, who visited Assam, in the course of his enquiry Into the manner in which infection by malaria takes place, confirmed Rogers' conclusions, and in 1899 placed on record his opinion that, as stated by Rogers , kala-azar was malarial fever. Externally the chief point of difference between kala-azar and ordinary malarial fever lies into the rapidity with which the former produces a condition of severe cachexia, and the ease with which it can be communicated from the sick to the healthy.''

Recent investigations have,however,thrown some doubt on the malarial theory.Certain called Leish man Donovan bodies have been discovered in the spleens of fever patients, and it thought that they may be the causes of the complaint. The origin of the disease is obviously a matter which must always be open to doubt.Captain Rogers is of opinion that kala-azar was imported from Rangpur, where malarial fever was extraordinarily virulent in the early seventies, but this is still a matter of conjecture. As to its effects there can unhappily be no question.

  Population Percentage Variation Between
1891 and 1901
Mangaldai Tahsil 36,152 -21
Patharughat 45,821 -21
Kalaigaon 55,691 -6
Ambagaon mauza 5,794 -21
Harisinga 5,660 -14


The disease appears to have entered the Mangaldai subdivision in 1890 and subdivision in 1890 and was especially virulent in the Patharughat, Mangaldai, and Kalaigaon tahsils and in the Ambagaon and Harisinga mauzas near the Bhutan Hills. The statement in the margin shows the percentage of decrease in population that occured in in these areas between 1891 and 1901.

It has also appeared near Tezpur and Bishnath, but has not as yet produced high mortality in this portion of the district, though it is still fairly common in many places in Darrang

Increase in facillities for medical aid.

Through there can be little doubt that many lives are annually lost which could be saved by proper treatment, it is satisfactory to know that of recent years there has been a great increase in the facilities for obtaining medical aid, and the extent to which the people avail themselves of the advantages now offered to them. From the statement in the margin it appears That for every patient treated in 1881 there were 15 in 1901, while the number of operations performed rose from 176 to 487. the principal dispensaries are those situated At Tezpur, Mangaldai, and Sipajhar which had in 1903 a daily average attendance ranging from 59 to 62. the disease for which treatment is most commonly applied are malarial fevers, worms, cutaneous disorders and diarrhea dyspepsia, and rheumatic affections.

The number of patients treated at each dispensary in 1900 and the succeeding years will be found in Table XXV.

  Dispensaries Patients Treated
  No No
1881 2 3,988
1801 2 12,191
1901 10 59,783


There are very few professional midwives amongst the Assamese, and a woman in her confinement is generally attended by her relatives or friends. In difficult cases they can render little help, and recourse is had to Heaven for assistance. A goat or duck is sacrificed , and mantras are tied round the neck and arm of the women or incsribed on a brass vessel which is placed where her eyes can fall upon it. In cases of false presentation attempts are made to drag the child out by anything that offers,and the abdomen is khended in the hope that the foetus may be . In the absence of medical aid, and this aid is seldom to be obtained the mother in such cases generally dies. The confinement sometimes takes place in a hut which has been specially constructed for the purpose and the patients bed generally consists of an old mat laid floor. The unfortunate mother receives practically no assistance; if the labour is a natural one, all is well but if complications arise, the case has usually a fatal termination. Many lives are also lost owing to a disregard of the rules of cleanliness which are of such paramount important in these cases.

Lunatic Asylum

There is a lunatic asylum at Tezpur to which insane persons are sent from the Assam valley and the Hill districts. The population in 1903 was 155, and the aver age cost of maintaining each of the inmates was Rs. 55.The grounds are tastefully laid out, and those of the patients who are not suffering from insanity in an acute and dangerous from employed in the garden attached to the asylum and encouraged to light work of other kinds.


A Professional revenue survey of the district was made at the time when Assam was still a division or Bengak and the were published in 1877. They are on the scale of one mile to the inch, and show the sites of villages and the physical features of the district. A smaller map on the scale of four miles to the inch was published in 1882 and was brought up to date in 1901 An area of 857 square miles which included the more densely populated portions of the district was cadastrally surveyed in the seasons of 1886-87 and 1891-92. The mape are on the scale of 16 inches to the mile, and in addition to topographical features show the boundaries of each field. Certain areas which were omitted by the professional party were subsequently surveyed by local agency, on the basis of a theodolite traverse, and the results obtained have been utilized in the revision of the one inch maps.*

· The area so surveyed up to 30th September 1900 was 130 square miles