Survey and Settlement Operations

Survey and Settlement Operations defined mainly the rights and obligations of zamindars and raiyats according to the bengal tenancy act of 1885. At the initial stage, survey and settlement operations were taken up piecemeal in isolated areas like Dakshin Shabazpur Estate in Bakerganj district (1889-95), Jainta Parganas of sylhet district (1892-97), Chakla Roshanabad Estate of Tipperah and noakhali district (1892-99), Estates of Basudev Roy and Kalisankar Sen in Bakerganj, dhaka and faridpur districts (1894-95 to 1900-01), Jaipur Government estate in bogra (1898), Patikara Ward Estate in Tipperah district (1905-06), diara operation areas in Bakerganj district (1910-15) and in Tushkhali Government estate in Bakerganj district (1905-06).

The first cycle The first cycle of district-wise survey and settlement operations was initiated in 1888-89 and completed with the dinajpur district settlement in 1934-40. Table 1 shows the completion of each district operations chronologically, with total years of operation and the names of the settlement officers who conducted those operations.

The second cycle A fresh cycle of settlement operations undertaken on the basis of revision of cadastral maps and records (called revisional settlement) was started with chittagong district (1923-33) with Mr JB Kindersely, ICS as settlement officer, followed by Bakerganj district (1940-42) with Mr R W Bastin, ICS, as settlement Officer. During the Second World War, it was suspended and after a gap of 3 years, resumed in 1945 with Mr AK Mukherjee, ICS as settlement officer. Mr Mukherjee continued till 1947 and left immediately after Partition, and Mr. M Haque, BCS took over and carried on till 1950. The district of West Bengal, where settlement operations were concluded in the first cycle, but transferred to India in the wake of Partition has not been included in table 1.

Name of the district or area Period of operation Name of settlement officer
Chittagong 1888-98 CGH Allen, ICS
Bakerganj 1904-16 JC Jack, ICS
Faridpur 1904-14 JC Jack, ICS
Mymensingh 1908-19 FA Sachse, ICS
Dhaka 1910-17 FD Ascoli, ICS
Rajshahi 1912-22 WH Nelson, ICS
Noakhali 1914-19 WH Thomson, ICS
Tippera (now Comilla) 1915-19 WH Thomson, ICS
Jessore 1920-24 MA Momen, BCS
Nadia (now Kushtia excluding Ranaghat) 1918-26 J M Pringle, ICS
Khulna 1920-26 LR Fawcus, ICS
Pabna and Bogra 1920-29 Donald Mc Pharson, ICS
Malda (now in West Bengal, excluding part transferred to Rajshahi after Partition of Bengal) 1928-35 Donald Mc Pherson, ICS
Rangpur 1931-38 AC Hartley, ICS
Dinajpur 1934-40 F O Bell, ICS
5 thanas of partially excluded area of Mymensingh district 1938-42 RW Bastin, ICS
Sylhet (transferred to East Bengal after Partition) 1950-64 N Ahmed, BL, BCS
Khulna (Sundarbans portion only) 1940-50 SA Majed, BCS M Huq, BCS

State Acquisition Operations After the Partition of Bengal (1947), a major legislation entered the statute book in the shape of east bengal state acquisition and tenancy act, 1950. Initially, the process of zamindari abolition started with the acquisition of estates, which were under the control of the Court of Wards. Thereafter, big estates of zamindars, which were outside Court of Wards, were acquired.

Revisional settlement was in operation in Bakerganj district since 1940. Except for a gap of 3 years from 1942 to 1945, this operation for state acquisition under chapter IV of the Act was issued. At the same time, sundarbans portion of khulna district was taken up also for cadastral settlement with a view to applying state acquisition proceedings there. The state acquisition (SA) settlement operations were undertaken simultaneously in eight zones as shown in table 2.

Name of zone Area covered Name of settlement officer
Comilla zone Districts of Comilla, Noakhali and Chittagong T Hussain, EPCS
Dhaka zone Dhaka S Ahmed, EPCS
Faridpur zone Faridpur and Kushtia district AMMK Masud, EPCS
Rajshahi zone Rajshahi and Pabna SG Shah, EPCS
Rangpur zone Rangpur, Dinajpur and Bogra M Islam, EPCS
Khulna zone Khulna, Jessore and Bakerganj districts (excluding areas previously done) M Huq, EPCS
Mymensingh zone Mymensingh district N Ahmed, EPCS
Sylhet zone Sylhet district AK Ahmed Khan, EPCS

The SA settlement had two-fold objectives: first, to prepare a revised record-of-rights and maps, on the basis of which compensation assessment rolls could be drawn up; second, to provide a mauzawari preliminary rent-roll for the government agencies entrusted with the collection of rents directly from the tenants, as all intermediate rent-receivers had been wiped out. However, the SA settlement offices had to take up the second objective first on the basis of zamindar's collection papers and whatever information was available from the rent receivers, and in fact, the settlement offices did prepare a preliminary rent-roll to facilitate the job of rent collecting agencies of the government. The main job assigned to them, viz, version of the existing maps and records was taken up by correcting the latest maps and records, only where changes on the ground had taken place through erosion or new formation in riverine areas or change of ownership has occurred by inheritance, sale or otherwise. The usual plot-by plot survey on blue print of cadastral maps was done away with. The main idea was to revise the existing maps and records in a summary way. The provincewise state acquisition settlements were thus concluded within a remarkably short time from 1956 to 1964. On the other hand, the district of Sylhet, which was originally a part of Assam, did not go through a full-fledged settlement operation on cadastral system until after it was incorporated in East Pakistan, following the referendum held to decide its future. A regular cadastral survey and settlement operation was concluded in the district from 1950-1964.

Fresh cycle A fresh cycle of settlement operations on revisional basis was started in 1965, commencing with rajshahi district and followed by similar full fledged revisional operations concluded, one by one, in Dhaka, Chittagong, Pabna, Kushtia, Mymensingh and Jamalpur by 1978 (original Mymensingh district was by then split up into tangail, Jamalpur, kishoreganj and Mymensingh Sadar district). Simultaneously, diara settlement operation was taken up in entire East Pakistan in 1964, operating centrally from its headquarters in Dhaka.

A new scheme of conducting survey and settlement operations was adopted in December 1984. Under this scheme, the entire country was covered by a plan to take up settlement operations simultaneously with 22 original district headquarters working as operational centres within the undivided districts called zones. These were termed as zonal settlements. To start with, 10 such zones were selected for conducting settlement operation, viz Khulna, barisal, Jessore, Faridpur, Noakhali, Comilla, Sylhet, Tangail, Rangpur and Bogra. But within a few years, it was felt that even in 10 selected districts, it was difficult to run settlement operations simultaneously, because of serious constraints of budget allocation, scarcity of trained manpower, and other operational problems. Many zonal settlement officers lacked settlement experience and a large percentage of field staff was fresh recruits. Government was thus forced to reuse their original programme and concentrate the operations in only five districts. According to the squeezed programme, full-fledged work would go on in the districts of Comilla, Mymensingh, Tangail, Rangpur and Bogra, to be completed within 3 years.

Settlement reports On conclusion of a settlement operations, the settlement officer concerned writes a final report, which inter alia, contains detailed information about the geographical, historical socio-economic feature of the operational area, usually a district or part of a district, along with related statistical data on land tenure pattern, agrarian infrastructure, various crop pattern and this average yield per acre and also economic, political, educational institutions pervading the different strata of the society. The report also includes contemporary human problems and issues relating to the area taken up in the settlement operations. [T Hussain]

See also revenue survey; bengal tenancy act 1885; east bengal state acquisition and tenancy act 1950.