Mouza lowest revenue collection unit. During the Mughal period, the term was extensively used in the sense of the revenue collection unit in a pargana or revenue district. A group of mouzas made a pargana. In the 20th century, mouza became popularly synonymous with the gram or village, which is indeed a social unit. However, in the 19th century and earlier, mouza was identified both as a social and revenue unit. There were mouzas which contained a few or even no homestead. Obviously, mouza was the most acceptable identifying mark.
A mouza had a definite land area within which there were rural basatis or settlements. Such basatis were either scattered or nucleated according to local circumstances. The nucleated ones came to be known by and large as grams or pallis. To settlement people and revenue collectors, the two terms thus carried two distinct meanings. Mouza was the geographical expression of a unit of landmass for revenue settlement and revenue collection, whereas, the village was a human settlement within a mouza with strong social bond. Within a mouza there could be thus more than one village. And, at the same time there could be even one village belonging to two contiguous mouzas.
In the table-flat alluvial land of Bengal, the village settlement seldom took the nucleated pattern. The individual peasant families found it advantageous to establish their homesteads on their own lands in the open fields. In Bakerganj district, for example, there was scarcely a clustered or nucleated village in the nineteenth century. Homesteads were built without caring for neighborhood. But such was not the case with sylhet and mymensing districts where depressions compelled the peasants to establish large nucleated village settlements on the raised riverbanks. In north Bengal districts clustered villages built around some water body (ponds, tanks, canal, etc) was the general character. Mouza was used as a revenue unit in the thakbast and revenue surveys. Similarly, the subsequent cadastral surveys of Bengal districts also used mouza as the lowest revenue unit. A mouza was identified in the local revenue map with its Jurisdiction List (JL) and Revenue Survey (RS) numbers. With the growth of population and consequent development of village society, improved communication and water supply, and with the abolition of the permanent settlement in 1950, the concept of mouza got weakened. Most mouzas are now endowed with a number of villages with their own social and political identities. Since 1962, the censuses and voter lists used primarily the names of villages rather than of mouzas, though in settlement documents the term mouza is still in vogue. [Sirajul Islam]