AGRICULTURE AND IRRIGATION
[The historical account is based on chapter VIII of the Central Provinces District Gazetteers, Amravati District, 1911.]
The system of land tenure in the past permitted a person to
own land so lone as he paid the customary revenue charges.
It, however, underwent changes with the course of political events during the different reigns.
At the dawn of this century the ordinary tenure was the ryotwari tenure, and all land paying revenue to government under that system was known as khalsa land. The State was recognised as the superior landlord, and the settlement was made directly with the cultivator himself and not through middle men. Subject to certain restrictions, the occupant was the absolute proprietor of his holding so long as he paid the assessment. Non-payment of assessment rendered the right of occupancy liable to forfeiture. The occupant was free to make any improvement he liked on the land. But he could not apply
the land to any other purpose than that for which it was granted. The khatedar, registered and recognised occupant of the
land, was primarily responsible for payment of the land revenue.
He could lease the land to any tenant.
Out of 1,640 villages in the plain tahsils, 1,615 were settled on the ryotwari tenure, and were known as Khalsa villages. The total area of these villages in 1906-07 was returned as 7,97,229.135 hectares (1.9,68,467 acres).
The land revenue administration and system of tenure in Melghat tahsil was different. It was described as a ryotwari system with many of the evils of other systems and few of its own advantages. The Government though nominally dealing with the ryots, left them really unprotected and exacted revenue from patch through patwaris. The patel was thus a malguzar with none of the advantages of the position and the cultivator a tenant of the State with few of the advantages of that position [Central Provinces District Gazetteers, Amravati District, 1911.].
Another important system of tenure in this district was the jagir system which was prevalent in 19 villages. The jagir was originally a mere assignment of the revenue of a particular territory for military services rendered to the Government and the maintenance of peace and order by the jagirdar in the territory so assigned. In latter times the grant was occasionally made to civil officers for the maintenance of status and dignity in consonance with the office held. Though the grants were not hereditary, some of the powerful beneficiaries acquired hereditary rights for these grants.
There was also the palampat tenure. Under this tenure the villages were made over at a fixed rent for a number of years. The Deshmukhs and Deshpandes were in control of the villages. The system was modified in the course of time, and the older tenants in palampat villages were given protection under Berar Land Revenue Code in the same manner as in jagir villages.
The inam tenure was also prevalent in a few khalsa villages. Under the inam tenure plots of land in khalsa villages were held by the recipients wholly or partially rent-free. They were either service inams or personal grants.
The ryotwari system is the most important system of tenure in the district. The other systems of tenure resembling the malguzari system have since been abolished by the progressive land legislation during recent years.
Under the ryotwari tenure the land revenue is fixed not upon an estate as a whole or on a village as a whole but on individual survey numbers or sub-divisions thereof. The rates of land revenue are fixed in accordance with the quality of the survey number, average rainfall, kind of crops grown, water resources and location.
Of the other tenures, such as, political inams, personal inams, service inams and jagirs, only the service inams remained in
existence. These were mainly vestiges of the British regime.
Being incompatible with the progressive land legislation they
were abolished in the post independence period. Service inams are holdings of land granted to certain persons for performance
of particular services to the Government or to the community.
The holders of such inams are village servants useful to the
community such as jagalyas, nhavis, sutars, kumbhars, mochis, etc.