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is a rush for water, we cannot enforce too strict rules; we are obliged to relax them, and did relax them in the past season. In Orissa there seemed to be a serious failure of the i rains in September, and many
cultivators rushed to the canals for water. A few of them did, in fact, pay for water (for about 1,500 acres) at rates higher than those of the early season, but just then rain fell, and all the applicants who had not completed their bargain disappeared. There has since been abundant rain and no need for canal water; the unfortunates who paid for the 1,500 acres are laughed at by their fellows, and irrigation prospects are again discouraged.
On the Midnapore canals, on the other hand, the , .... irrigation had hitherto progressed
much better than in Orissa, though still on a small scale. This year there was much greater failure of the rains than in Orissa. There was a really extensive demand for the water, the rules were considerably relaxed, and it was believed that the day of triumph had come. But unhappily all these prospects were darkened by a circumstance which the projectors of the canal do not appear to have taken into account, though it seems obvious enough; the supply of water in the river which feeds the canals failed in October and November, just when water was most wanted. Short rivers rising on the surface of dry uplands must fail when the rains fail. Though there was by no means so excessive a drought in Midnapore as in the rest of Bengal and Behar, the supply to the canal fell to 300 feet per second at the time when water was most necessary to the crops. This quantity will not suffice for much more than about 30,000 acres; so much was irrigated, but many applicants were sent away without water, and even to some of those to whom we had engaged to give it a very short supply was available. It seems then that we cannot safely engage to irrigate very much more than 30,000 acres without the fear that we shall fail to do what we have undertaken to do in every dry season when the rains cease early. It is seldom that the water is an absolute necessity at any other time, and the serious question arises whether we can undertake to extend our irrigation subject to this risk, and how we are to distribute the supply when we have not enough for all. If we must confine our irrigation to the area which we can securely irrigate, the return for the capital expended will be little or nothing. In fact hitherto, as the statements show, taking all the canals together, the irrigation revenue has not paid the expenses of collection, far less the cost of maintaining the canals.
On the other hand, the unfinished Soane canals, while
yielding no revenue, have been "'" this autumn a real blessing to
the country, and have much better prospects. The works not being complete, it was not intended to attempt irrigation this season, and it would have been impossible to do so on any revenue-paying system; none of our machinery was ready. Any attempt to charge for water would have done harm, as did the premature forcing of revenue in Orissa. It was deemed, then, that it was the best policy, not only on grounds of humanity, but also as the best financial policy in the end, to give water as far as possible without asking for payment, in the belief that while increasing the food supply we should also accustom the people to the use of the water and make it popular. Too much praise cannot be bestowed on Mr. Levinge, the Superintending Engineer, and his staff for the energy and good will with which, setting aside all professional red tape and all difficulties, they went to work to supply water by any means through the unfinished canals and to extemporise the means of distributing it into main channels, subsidiary channels from which the people gladly made. The result has been that upwards of 120,000 acres have received water in the districts of Shahabad and Gya, either to save the rice or to enable the people to sow the cold weather crops, and irrigation is still going on. Immense good has been done, and the canals are at present deservedly most popular in those parts. The Lieutenant-Governor believes that the Soane canals have really very much better prospects than the others, and that within certain limits their greater or less success is assured. Whether in ordinary years, when there is a full rain-supply, the people will consent to pay sucli rates as to render the canal remunerative, remains to be seen; but that the water will always be taken to a considerable extent, the Lieutenant-Governor has no doubt. The Soane has this great advantage, that it retains a supply of about 3,000 feet per second in the cold weather, and we shall be thus enabled to supply a large extent of irrigation for the spring crops. Sir George Campbell had inclined to keep the works within the limits of an area which could be at all times supplied, in dry seasons as well as in wet ones, till at least we should see our way further. Plans for so much had been prepared, and all that was so arranged was put in hand under the sanction of the Government of India as soon as the failure of the present year threatened scarcity. His Excellency the Viceroy has since determined on further extensions which are about to be put in hand.
The failure of the crops in the sub-Himalayan districts of Northern Behar has caused the revival of plans for irrigation from the Gunduck and other streams of that region. In connection with the Gunduck embankments, which have just been sanctioned, a plan for a small flood-season canal in the ditch behind the embankment has already been approved. But as regards larger projects the most difficult question still arises whether we can properly undertake canals which may probably not pay in ordinary years, and when we cannot really exact famine rates in the bad years, against which the canals are a sort of insurance.
Even if the Soane canals, kept within dry-season , . . „ ,, limits, may eventually pay, it is
Irrigation Problems a* A si i in -i T «
Sir Greorge Campbell s belief that almost all other canals which can be devised in those Provinces will practically be of the nature of an insurance against bad years, rather than a profitable speculation in ordinary years. Can we impose an insurance rate on those who are benefited? Or is Government justified in spending great sums from the general revenues not for profit, but to save life in years of failure? These are very perplexing questions.
As regards the saving of life, the fever which has so often accompanied the canals must be taken into account. It may well be doubted whether the Ganges Canal most saves life or destroys it. Sir George Campbell had hoped that deltaic canals were free from this scourge, but he has lately seen that there are complaints of fever caused by the Godavery Canals also.
These canal questions are raised, not solved, it must be confessed, by the history of 1873.
Chapter XX gives a succinct account of the traffic and
position of the Railways in oper
way"' ation, and describes the new
Railways undertaken or projected. The very important line through Northern Bengal from the Ganges to the Himalayas has just been sanctioned and commenced. The account of this line and other matters in this Railway Chapter will be found interesting.
Chapter XXI gives a statement of the Imperial Revenues
collected in Bengal, and the
Imperial Revenues. T-, 1 1 1 •
Expenditure chargeable against them. An account of the management of the principal sources of revenue is also given.
There is a large falling off in the Opium Revenue as
compared to the very- high
Opium. 1 ,. , . . J . °
amount realised in the previous year, the opium crop sold having been a deficient one and the prices a fraction lower than in 1871-72. Several reforms, experiments, and inquiries in the Opium Department, are explained.
The Income Tax having been confined to a more limited
class in 1872-73, and abolished at tlie end of that year, there is a decrease under assessed taxes.
All the other revenues are more or less progressive and prosperous.
A statement given at page 300 shows in a comparative
form the consumption of, and revenue derived from, Salt, from the latter part of the last century to the present time. Taking cycles of three years the result is found to be "that the consumption of salt in Bengal increased steadily, but not very rapidly, in the first forty years of this century; increased very largely in the next few years, when the duty was reduced to Rs. 2-8 per maund, and has remained nearly stationary, or only very slightly increased, since the duty has been again raised to the rate of Rs. 3-4 per maund."
It is a subject of much congratulation to the Government E . that a considerably increasing
Excise Revenue has been obtained concurrently with a decrease in the consumption of spirits and noxious drugs, owing to measures recently adopted. Under this head is explained the system by which a new attempt has been made to limit the liquor traffic.
In Chapter XXII a full account is given of the Provincial „ . ., „ Finance of the year, and of
Provincial Revenues. , _ . _ ,
the Local Taxation imposed or about to bo imposed. It will be seen that, while there has not been in 1872-73 the same saving in the provincial account as in the previous year, liberal grants-in-aid of local funds have been made without disturbing the substantial equilibrium of the provincial finance, and a good balance was in hand at the end of the year. It will also be seen that for the financial rear 1873-74 somewhat more liberal budget assignments have been made, with the view of usefully and profitably expending the public works balances on works which have been thoroughly well considered, and providing the means of commencing a system of primary education of the people which has not yet been met by any local rate. All the other services were efficiently provided for within the amounts previously assigned for the purpose.
The failure of the crops of the present autumn must increase the expenses of most departments, and will bring into use the balances which the Lieutenant-Governor has thought it prudent to reserve for a bad day. But, Famine having been in the original scheme reserved by the Government of India as an imperial charge, it is hoped that increase in the ordinary departmental charges will be met from the provincial resources, even though we have relied on economies only for the means of meeting gradually increasing demands and occasional extraordinary demands such as those now unavoidable.
It has often been pointed out that in many parts of India
Local Tuition there is now a considerable local
taxation in addition to that shown in the general revenue accounts. There has been, and is, very little of this in Bengal. In this Chapter XXII, under the heading 'Local Funds,' page 343, will be found an account of the local taxation, apart from the municipal revenues which have been already noticed. It was before shown that the municipal taxation on the inhabitants of municipalities in Bengal is but 8^ pence per head against 12£ pence to 20 pence in other provinces. And a statement of local taxation, which will be found at page 347, shows that the general local taxation of Bengal is at the rate of 5 pie, or a little more than a half-penny per head, and when the road cess is fully assessed, will be about a penny per head of the whole population, against 4| pence to 6 pence per head in the other provinces of India.
In this same chapter, under the head 'Road Cesses',
^ „ J „ page 348, will be found an
The Road Cess. r e . ,. , ,,
account of proceedings under the Road Cess Act, since the last report in which its origin and character was explained. It will be seen that the Act has now been introduced into twenty-one districts, in sixteen of which the valuations are wholly completed, and in two