The Sundarban stretches from the brackish waters of the broad Hooghly on the west, to the fresh waters of the still broader Meghna to the east; the turbid waters of the Bay of Bengal on its southern limits, to the zamindari or pargana lands on its northern extremity and includes in its southern fringes the dense natural mangrove forests, it is famous for.
The revenue history of Sundarbans is linked up with its riverine and coastal networks to its strategic location at the head of the Bay of Bengal which made it a natural protective barrier for the densely populated city of Calcutta. The massive transformation combined with the changed physical structure of Sundarban influenced society and economy on the one hand and invited settlers to establish their control in that region on the other.
The text of Pargiter focuses on the revenue history of a larger part of Sundarbans, viz., Jessore, Khulna, Bakarganj and some parts of 24-Parganas since the inception of the colonial rule in Bengal. It has also been shown how the colonial administrators took various types of measures for collecting revenue by the way of land reclamation.
The introductory note by the editor analyses the revenue settlement policies which had been implemented on different occasions to ensure the revenue maximization policies of the British Raj on the one hand and to establish an human settlement in the deltaic region on the other.
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Table of Contents
Introduction I. Early History, 1765-1816 II. Establishment of the Sundarban Commission and Preliminary Operations, 1816-1821 III. Completion of the Operation in the 24-Parganas, 1821-1828 IV. Final Determination of the Right of the State to the Sundarbans, 1827-1828 V. Definition of the Boundary of the Sundarban Forest, 1828-1833 VI. Jurisdiction and Summary of Operations, 1828-1836 VII. Resumptions, 1828-1836 VIII. Grant Rules of 1830, and Grants of Forest Lands, 1829-1836 IX. Settlement of Resumed and Other Lands, 1828-1836 X. Resumptions and Collateral Inquiries, 1834-1844 XI. Settlements, 1836-1844 XII. Forest Grants, Grant Rules, and Boundary Difficulties, 1836-1844 XIII. Abolition and Re-Establishment of the Sundarban Commission, 1844-1846 XIV. Inquiries, Surveys, Resumptions and Settlements in Connection with Lots 216-230, 1844-1857 XV. Settlements and Rights of Settlement, 1844-1857 XVI. Forest Grants, 1844-1853 XVII. Resurvey and Adjustment of the Sundarban Boundary in the 24-Parganas, 1844-1856 XVIII. Resumptions, Inquiries, Jurisdiction, etc., 1844-1857 XIX. Revised Sundarban Grant Rules of 24th September 1853 XX. Sundarban Grants and the Rules of 1853,1853-1862 XXI. Resumed Mahalls and the Rules of 1853, 1853-1862 XXII. Jurisdiction, Settlements, and Rights of Settlement, 1854-1868 XXIII. Revenue and Other Surveys, Boundary Decisions, and Resumptions, 1852-1870 XXIV. Schemes of Sundarban Improvement, and Miscellaneous Matters, 1853-1868 XXV. Rules for the Sale of Waste Lands Free of Land Revenue, and for the Redemption of Land Revenue,1858-1870 XXVI. History of Saugor Island, 1811-1877
Frederick Eden Pargiter born in 1852, was the second son of the Rev. Robert Pargiter. He was educated at Exeter College, Oxford and was a Boden Sanskrit scholar in 1872. He passed the Indian Civil Service exam and was sent to Bengal in 1875, where he served for thirty-one years and retired in 1906. Pargiter died at Oxford on 18 February 1927.
Ananda Bhattacharyya is Assistant Director of the West Bengal State Archives.