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being devoted to the cultivation of this condiment. The other crops
referred to in the preceding paragraph are produced on a smaller scale.
Toddy-palms are planted to a large extent in the north-western part of
the District. The average area of a holding is about 7 acres in the
case of rice land, and about 11 in the case oi ya or uplands.

No loans have been made under the Land Improvement Loans Act.
Free recourse was had to the Agriculturists' Loans Act during the
scarcity of 1896-7, and since then the utility of this enactment has
been proved more than once. About Rs. 9,000 was advanced in
1900-1, and the system was so much appreciated by the villagers that
during the following three years the loans averaged nearly Rs. 30,000
per annum.

Cattle-breeding is carried on to a considerable extent. Buffaloes
have been introduced from Lower Burma in small numbers, but are
not bred in the District.

There are no reserved grazing grounds, sufficient pasturage being
afforded by fallow and uncultivable lands, broken and hilly ground,
and scrub jungle. No difficulties are experienced in feeding live-stock,
except during a period of drought, when cultivators usually emigrate to
areas where there is no distress. The only expenditure incurred by the
owners of breeding cattle is the hire of the herdsman who takes the
beasts out to graze. Goats and sheep are reared with success by
natives of India in Meiktila town and in a few villages. Hogs are also
bred, but only in small numbers.

The chief sources of irrigation are the Meiktila lake, the Nyaungyan-
Minhla tank, the Inyin se (or dam), the Wundwin se, and the Nyaung-
binhla se. The Meiktila lake draws its supplies from the high land
east of Popa, having a catchment area of over 200 square miles. The
area irrigated from the system of tanks and distributaries fed by it
extends north-eastwards to Wundwin, and eastwards to Thazi, and the
total at present commanded by the lake is 43 square miles. The
portion of this total actually irrigated varies considerably from year to
year. The Nyaungyan-Minhla tank, described above, is really com-
posed of two tanks joined by a channel. New irrigation works have
considerably diminished its catchment area, which is now estimated at
200 square miles, the area commanded being 30 square miles, though
only 6,000 acres are at present actually irrigated. The Inyin se is a


stone crib-work weir (with flanking banks), thrown across the Thinbon
chaung near Chaunggon, a village to the north of Meiktila town. It is
capable of watering nearly 10,000 acres, but usually irrigates about half
that amount. The water passing over the weir is dammed below by
numerous temporary ses, which distribute the water over a considerable
area. The dam was seriously breached in September, 1905. The
Wundwin se is situated close to Wundwin, its supply being derived "
chiefly from the Meiktila lake system and a watercourse known as the
Natmyaung. It irrigates as a rule about 4,500 acres. The Nyaung-
binhla se consists of a crib-work weir thrown across the Samon river
just below where it enters the District in the south. It diverts the
water to the north-east, and serves on an average about 3,000 acres.
The District contains hundreds of small tanks, fed by weirs which hold
up the freshes in the streams ; they are, however, maintained by the
cultivators themselves, and are not Government works. Altogether
136 square miles were returned as irrigated in 1903-4. Of this total,
50,500 acres were served by the numerous private tanks scattered over
the country, and 35,600 acres by Government tanks and canals. The
irrigated land is almost wholly given up to rice cultivation.

Several types of forest occur in the District. The western areas are
covered with dry scrub growth, in which the principal species are sha
(Acacia Catechu), kan (Carissa Carandas), pyitizin
{Rhus paniculata), dahat {Tectona Hamiltoniana),
and here and there a tanaung {Acacia kucop/iloea), or a group of
tamarinds. The only species of any importance is the sha, yielding
the cutch of commerce, but this has been overworked in the past.
Along the banks of the Samon chaung the growth improves, and in
places which have escaped the attention of contractors supplying fuel
to the railway it approaches the condition of high forest. The chief
species in this belt are than {Terminalia Oliveri), dahat {Tectona
Hamiltojiiana), fhamon {Niebuhria sp.), nabe {Odina JVodier), and
tapauk {Dalbergia paniculata), with the ttiyinwa {Dendrocalamus
strictus) as the common bamboo. None of these is of any commercial
importance, though the extract prepared from the bark of the than has
been reported on very favourably as a tanning material. On the slopes
of the hills draining into the Samon chaung the forest is of the familiar
indaing type, the principal species being in {Dipterocarpus tuberculatus),
ihitya {Shorea obtusa), and ingyin {Pentacme siamensis), all yielding
building timber. Still farther to the west, in the basin of the Panlaung
chaung, mixed dry forests predominate, containing valuable timber
trees, such as teak, padauk, and pyingado {Xylia dolabriformis), as well
as the thitya, ingyiti, and other growths. In 1903-4 the total area of
'reserved ' forests was 105 square miles, of which 49 square miles were
cutch Reserves ; and it was estimated that the unclassed forests covered


a further 300 square miles, ^\'ith the exception of about 30 acres of
paddy-fields acquired at settlement in the Aingtha and Thinbon chaiing
Reserves, which were ploughed and sown broadcast with cutch seed,
no planting operations have been undertaken. The total forest receipts
in 1903-4 amounted to only Rs. 2,500.

Meiktila possesses few minerals of economic importance. Limestone
appears in small quantities in many parts of Mahlaing, but is said to
have no industrial value, though a very fair lime can be obtained from
it. The natron that accumulates on the soil in the satpya-Xz^'d.Q.w tracts
is collected and used as a cosmetic. Coal has been found in the
Kyetkauk hill south-east of Hlaingdet in Thazi, and also in the Suban
circle ; and brine-springs occur in a few places in the ^\'undwin township.

The District is essentially agricultural, and the great majority of the
population depend wholly on husbandry for a livelihood, so that there
are few manufactures. Bamboo basket- and mat-
work is carried on to a limited extent, but the output Trade and

, en • ^ c \ -i ■ communications,

is not more than surhcient for local requirements.

The only special industry is the manufacture of rough pottery, carried
on in the Wundwin, Mahlaing, and Thazi townships. The experiment
of weaving cotton cloth by machinery is being tried in the villages of
Shawbin and Aingtha in Wundwin. A cotton-ginning factory has been
established at Mahlaing, and the cotton, after being ginned, is exported
to Lower Burma and Bhamo. Butter is manufactured at Meiktila, and
goes to Rangoon and Mandalay.

The District carries on a steady trade with the Southern Shan States
by way of the Thazi-Taunggyi Government road. A good deal of the
traffic that starts from Taunggyi is diverted into Yamethin ; a fair
portion of it, however, reaches Meiktila District and is registered at
Kywelebin. The imports from the Shan States by the Kywelebin
route were valued at 4 lakhs in 1903-4, the chief items being potatoes
(valued at Rs. 74,600), lac (Rs. 1,08,000), ponies, vegetables, and
various other articles, the most important of which is thanatpet for
cigar wrappers. The exports to the Shan States by the same route
were valued in the same year at 13-4 lakhs, including European cotton
piece-goods (6-8 lakhs), betel-nuts (Rs. 36,800), cotton twist and yarn
(Rs. 96,000), salt (Rs. 26,200), petroleum (Rs. 34,000), woollen goods,
wheat, iron-work, salted fish, ngapi^ ghl, and sugar. To other Districts
in Burma Meiktila exports cutch and cotton, mainly to Rangoon and
Mandalay by train, and to Bhamo via Mandalay by steamer. Cotton
and silk goods and various manufactured commodities are brought in
by the railway.

Though absolutely without navigable waterways, Meiktila is excep-
tionally well off in the matter of land communications. The railway
line from Mandalay to Rangoon passes from north to south through



the District for 39^ miles, and has four stations within its Hmits.
The Myingyan branch from Tliazi to the boundary at Vwatha runs
diagonally north-westwards for 40^ miles, with six stations, including
those at Meiktila and Mahlaing. Thus, except in the extreme east,
no portion of Meiktila is out of touch with the District head-quarters
or the outside world.

Tiie chief roads maintained by the Pul)lic Works department are :
from ^Meiktila to Thazi {i^\ miles, metalled), and thence via Hlaindet
into the Shan States, crossing the Shan States border near Nampandet ;
from ^^'undwin to Mahlaing (29 miles) ; from Meiktila to Pindale
(20 miles); from Meiktila to Mahlaing (31 miles); and on to Myin-
gyan. All but the first of these are unmetalled. Various tracks, some
of them maintained out of the District fund, connect the larger villages
with each other and with the railway. The total length of metalled and
unmetalled roads in 1903-4 was 24 miles and 107 miles respectively.
The rainfall is so light that the village roads can be used practically
at all seasons of the year.

The capriciousness of the rainfall is responsible for frequent failure of
the harvest. Scarcity occurred in 189 1-2 owing to light rains, and
caused considerable emigration to Lower Burma and
Kyaukse, necessitating the opening of relief works.
In severity, however, it was eclipsed by the famine of 1896-7. The
previous year had been a lean one, and the rains held off from the
middle of July till October, and ceased the same month. The needs
of the people were, however, supplied by private enterprise ; and
though the price of rice at first rose to 7 seers to the rupee, it fell
to 8 seers when food-grains were imported. The stringency of prices
was not accompanied by any marked increase of crime except cattle-
theft. During the period of famine cholera broke out in some parts
of the District, but was soon stamped out. llie death-rate, however,
ordinarily between 25 and 30 per 1,000, rose in 1897 to 42 in March,
Ai)ril, and May, dropping gradually to normal in the autumn. The
works undertaken for the relief of distress were the Thazi-Myingyan
railway, and the AVundwin-Pindale and Meiktila Lake roads. In
addition to other measures, advances were made in 1896-7 under the
Agriculturists' Loans Act to the amount of Rs. 41,000, and in the
following year to the amount of Rs. 53,000. The whole District was
affected, and many of the villagers migrated to other parts of Burma.
A\'hen the assessment of tJiatJiameda was made, it was found necessary
to abstain from levying anything from 3,863 households, while the rest
of the people were taxed at reduced rates of Rs. 3 and upwards. The
total number of units relieved from October, 1896, to November, 1897,
was 3I millions, the largest number in a month being 600,000 in


The District is divided for administrative purposes into two sub-
divisions : Meiktila, comprising the Meiktila and Mahlaing town-
ships ; and Thazi, comprising the Thazi and . , . .
WuNDWiN townships. They are in charge of the
usual executive officers, under whom are 468 village headmen. At
head-quarters are an akunwun (in subordinate charge of revenue),
a treasury officer, and a superintendent of land records, with a staff of
5 inspectors and 50 surveyors. The District forms, with the rest
of the Division, the Meiktila Public Works division, and contains two
subdivisions. An Assistant Engineer is in charge of the Southern or
Meiktila subdivision of the Eastern Irrigation division. The District
forms part of the Kyaukse subdivision of the Mandalay Forest division.

The Commissioner is Sessions Judge for the District, and the
Deputy-Commissioner is District Magistrate and District Judge.
Four township courts and two subdivisional courts are subordinate to
the District court. The township officers dispose of both civil and
criminal work, as well as revenue business. It has been found
necessary to appoint one additional judge (who is also treasury officer
and head-quarters magistrate) to the Meiktila township court, and
a second to assist the township officers of Thazi and Mahlaing in
their civil work. A third additional judge spends half his time at
Wundvvin and half at Pyawbwe in Yamethin District. Besides the
additional township judges, an additional judge (usually an Extra
Assistant Commissioner) has been posted to Meiktila and Yamethin
Districts, to relieve the District court of the greater part of its civil and
criminal work. He sits half the month at Meiktila and half at Yamethin.
A Cantonment Magistrate disposes of petty criminal cases within the
limits of Meiktila cantonment. Cattle-theft is one of the most preva-
lent offences, the facilities for this form of crime being great.

Under native rule the District revenue was derived from thathameda,
an irrigation tax, crown-land rents, bazars, and various law receipts.
State land at that time covered a comparatively small area. The
water revenue was collected by inyaitnggaungs or canal-keepers, who
superintended the distribution of the water under the kan-ok or super-
intendent of the Meiktila lake. The viyaunggaungs received neither
pay nor commission, but doubtless took advantage of their position
to levy extensive blackmail. At annexation the revenue on most of
the state land was fixed at Rs. 16 per pe (1-75 acres), which was
supposed to represent the value of one-quarter of the actual produce,
but it was not long before this rate was reduced by about half. The
irrigation tax was continued at a maximum rate of Rs. 2 per acre, and
thathameda was collected at Rs. 10 a house, or the same rate as
before. Survey operations went on from 1891 to 1895 ; and the settle-
ment of the surveyed area, which included all the District west of the

T 2



Samon, was begun in 1896 and completed in 1S9S. In 1901-2 the
rest of the District up to the foot of the Shan hills was surveyed, and
settlement rates will shortly be introduced there also. At the settle-
ment of 1896-8 the District was divided into two tracts : one comprised
the greater part of the District from the Samon westwards"; the other
consisted of a strip of relatively poor upland bordering on Myingyan
District in the west, containing very little state land, and only about
4,500 acres of cultivation. On the completion of the settlement, the
thathameda was reduced from Rs. 10 to Rs. 3 a household, and fixed
rates were introduced on state land, the rates on non-state land being
levied at three-fourths of the rate on corresponding state land. In the
first tract, rice land now pays from R. i to Rs. 5 per acre ; other crops
on rice land, R. i ; ya or upland crops, from 8 annas to Rs. 1-8
per acre ; onions and chillies, Rs. 3 ; garden crops, from Rs. 2-8
(on plantain groves) to Rs. 15 (on betel-vines); sugar-cane, Rs. 10 per
acre ; and solitary fruit trees, 4 annas each. In the second and poorer
tract, the rates on rice land vary from 7 annas to Rs. 3-8 ; and on
ya lands from 4 annas to Rs. 1-2 per acre.

The following table gives the revenue, in thousands of rupees, for
a series of years : —




Land revenue .
Total revenue .




i\t one time thathameda was the main source of re\'enue, but on the
introduction of settlement rates the receipts from this source fell below
those from land revenue.

The income of the District fund in 1903-4 was Rs. 59,000, and the
chief item of expenditure was public works, to which Rs. 52,000 was
devoted. There are no municipalities.

The District Superintendent of police has a force of 3 inspectors,
8 head constables, 23 sergeants, and 289 constables, 24 of whom are
mounted. There are 90 military police stationed at Meiktila and 30
at Thazi. Meiktila contains a District jail, with accommodation for
198 prisoners. The industries carried on are wheat grinding, oil-
pressing, cactus and siirkhi pounding, carpentry, rope-making, and
bamboo- and canc-work.

The standard of literacy according to the figures of the last Census
is somewhat low for Burma. The number of Indian immigrants and
backward hill tribes is not large, yet the proportion of literate males in
1901 (33 per cent.) was below that of any other District in the dry
zone of Upper Burma, and the female percentage (1-7) was higher only
than that of Magwe and a few of the most backward areas of the Pro-


vince. For both sexes together the proportion was 16 per cent. The
number of pupils was 630 in 1891, and 6,903 in 1901. In 1904 the
District contained 7 secondary, 82 primary, and 576 elementary
(private) schools, with an attendance of 8,399 pupils, including 495
girls. The expenditure amounted to Rs. 21,700, Provincial funds sup-
plying Rs. 16,900, fees Rs. 3,000, and subscriptions Rs. 1,800.

There are 2 hospitals, with a total of 33 beds ; and 10,664 cases,
of whom 444 were in-patients, were treated in 1903. The number of
operations in the same year was 242. The expenditure amounted
to Rs. 11,500, mostly derived from Provincial funds. Subscriptions
realized Rs. 600.

In 1903-4 the number of persons successfully vaccinated was
9,130, representing 36 per 1,000 of population.

[R. A. Gibson, Settlement Report {\c)q6)7\

Meiktila Subdivision. — Western subdivision of Meiktila District,
Upper Burma, comprising the Meiktila and Mahlaing townships.

Meiktila Townsliip. — South-western township of Meiktila District,
Upper Burma, lying on both sides of the Meiktila-Myingyan railway,
between 20° 40' and 21° o' N. and 95° 31^ and 96° 2' E., with an area
of 466 square miles. The population was 65,612 in 1891, and 76,656
in 1901, distributed in one town, Meiktila (population, 7,203), the
head-quarters of the District and township, and 390 villages. The
country is undulating and badly watered for the most part, except in
the neighbourhood of the Meiktila lake. In 1903-4 the area culti-
vated was 180 square miles, and the land revenue and thathameda
amounted to Rs. 1,38,000.

Meiktila Town.— Head- quarters of the Division and District of
the same name in Upper Burma, situated in 20° 53' N. and 95° 52' E.,
on the Myingyan branch of the Burma Railway', 320 miles from Ran-
goon and 57 from Myingyan. It stands on the margin of a large arti-
ficial lake, with an irregular indented margin. The lake is practically
divided into two bodies of water, the north and the south lake. Over
the strip of water uniting the two run the railway bridge and a narrow
wooden bridge which connects the town on the east with the civil
station* on the west. The population of Meiktila was 4,155 in 1891
and 7,203 in 1901, including over 2,000 persons of Indian origin.
The town is built on irregular broken ground. On the highest point
east of the southern lake lie the cantonments, from which a road runs
along the embankment of the lake, passing through the town, near
the railway station, and crossing the bridge to the civil lines, whence
it is continued round the margin of the southern lake to the barracks
again, thus forming a circular road of 7 miles in length. The town is
not picturesque, and the number of flat-topped brick houses give it an
Eastern, but quite un-Burmese, appearance. Only the pongyi kyaungs


and pagodas remain unchanged. There are trees in Meiktila itself;
but the general impression on first arriving by train from Thazi is of
bare, broken, stony ground, with scrubby jungle growing in patches,
and the lake, with its diversified shores, comes as a pleasant surprise.
The north lake has few buildings on its banks. West of it lies a small
suburb called Kanna ; and on its eastern shore are the military police
lines, the American Baptist Mission, the bazar, and the INIusalman
mosque. All these are divided by the railway line from tlie town proper.

There are no manufactures, but a fair trade in hides and other com-
modities is done with the surrounding villages. Cattle-breeding is
carried on to some extent. Butter manufactured here is exported to
Rangoon and Mandalay. Nearly all the pongyi kyaiings contain saw-
pits, and new houses are constantly being built. Leases have lately
been issued in the town, and the consequent security of land tenure
encourages the growth of good wooden and brick buildings. There
is a large bazar, where a market is held every fifth day, resorted to
by all the country-side.

Most of the public buildings have been constructed within the last
ten years. The main Government vaccine depot for Burma is located
at Meiktila. It was started in 1902, and new buildings are to be
erected in connexion with it. The expenses of the depot in 1903-4
amounted to Rs. 8,500, provided out of Provincial funds. The circuit-
house is unusually large ; and the club, built in one of the best positions
on the shore of the lake, is a convenient and capacious building. The
station contains two churches, for the Roman Catholic and Anglican
communities, a jail, and a hospital. The usual strength of the garrison
is one wing of British infantry and a regiment of Native infantry. Meik-
tila is also the head-quarters of a company of the Upper Burma \'olun-
teer Rifles. The income of the cantonment funds in 1903-4 was
Rs. 5,700, and the expenditure Rs. 5,600.

The lake is reserved for drinking and household purposes, and is
carefully protected from possible pollution. The reputation of Meiktila
as a healthy station is supposed to be largely due to its good supply of
drinking-water. The depth of water in the lake varies very much, and
the under-currents are strong. During the hot season it is occasionally
swept by violent gusts of wind, which have caused several fatal
boating accidents. The town has not yet been constituted a munici-
pality ; but a conservancy scheme for the urban area is now working
well, and should increase the healthiness of this thriving and growing

Meja. — South-eastern iahs'il of Allahabad District, United Provinces,
conterminous with the pargana of Khairagarh, lying between 24° 47'
and 25° 19' N. and 81° 45' and 82° 19' E., with an area of 650 scjuare
miles. Population fell from 195,221 in 1891 to 167,014 in 1901, the


rate of decrease being the highest in the District. There are 579 vil-
lages and two towns, including Sirsa (population, 4,159). The demand
for land revenue in 1903-4 was Rs. 2,86,000, and for cesses Rs. 48,000 ;
but the land revenue has since been reduced to Rs. 2,13,000. The
density of population in the whole tahsll h only 257 persons per square
mile, but in the northern Doab portion it rises to 469. The southern
part of the fahsll is a precarious tract, which has recently been brought
under a system of fluctuating assessments. North of a low range of
hills, which crosses the tahsll from east to west at a distance of 5 to
10 miles south of the Ganges, conditions resemble those of the Doab.
A great plain of mar or black soil like that of Bundelkhand, and with
low detached hills here and there, stretches south to the Belan. Be-
yond the Belan there is a tract of mar on the east, and on the west a
small fertile valley of much better quality. In the extreme south rises
the north^ern scarp of the Kaimurs.

Meja. — Chief place in an estate of the same name in the State of
Udaipur, Rajputana, situated in 25° 25' N. and 74° 33' E., about
80 miles north-east of Udaipur city, and 6 miles south-west of Mandal
station on the Rajputana-Malwa Railway. Population (1901), 1,027.
The estate is of recent creation and consists of 16 villages, held by
a noble who has the title of Rawat and belongs to the Chondawat
family of the Sesodia Rajputs. The income is about Rs. 25,600,
and a tribute of Rs. 2,500 is paid to the Darbar.

Mekong. — One of the main rivers of Indo-China, rising in Tibet
and flowing with a general south-easterly course into the China Sea
in French Cochin-China. The greater portion of its channel lies in
China, Siam, and the French possessions in Indo-China. For 50 or
100 miles between about 20° 30' and 21° 30' N. the river, however,
borders on the Shan State of Kengtung, separating that State from
French territory ; and it may therefore be said to form a portion of the

Online LibraryGreat Britain. India OfficeImperial gazetteer of India .. (Volume 17) → online text (page 34 of 51)