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increasing in popularity. The tobacco crop in 1903-4 (3,000 acres)
was small compared with that of the previous year. About 700 acres
are under cotton. The area devoted to garden cultivation (2,000 acres)
is small, but is larger than in many other dry zone Districts. Betel-
vines and plantains are cultivated in the Legaing township, and man-
goes, coco-nuts, and the like in the Salin township. The betel vineyards
at Pwinbyu on the Mon river are deserving of special mention.


Total area. Cultivated.

Irrigated. Forests.


Legaing .


542 105
53.^ 70
362 9
741 1S6
1,121 15

24 1 1
14 1

46 ,

5 '


3,299 385 94 1,561

Cultivation is on the increase, especially in the uplands ; and when
the Mon canal system is completed, there should be a large increase
in irrigated land also. The introduction of new varieties of seed is
a difficult task. An improved kind of plantain has, however, been
brought from Mandalay, and a dry variety of pea from the United
Provinces, while attempts are being made to get tobacco-growers to
experiment with Havana seed. After bad years cultivators are much
helped by the system of agricultural loans. The average amount
allowed for the District is Rs. 13,800 per annum, every rupee of which,
in hard times, is applied for, and very little has ever to be written off
subsequently as irrecoverable.

Cattle-breeding is carried on, but scientific breeding requires a care
and attention which the people are but little di.sposed to give to it.
Cows are extensively kept, but almost solely for breeding purposes ;
a cow that produces a good heifer at once rises in value. Trotting
bullocks are also in considerable demand. Ponies, too, are bred ; but
colts and foals are ridden far too )Oung, and though good colts are
doubtless kept for breeding purjjoses, no care at all is taken over the
selection of mares. Something is at present being done to encourage
sound breeding by the institution of an annual agricultural show at
Sagu. Buffaloes are found chiefly in the villages along the Irrawaddy.
They are not used in the upland tracts, and only occasionally on
irrigated land. The average price for a pair of buffaloes is between
Rs. 120 and Rs. 150.

Ample provision for grazing grounds was made at the time when the
District was settled, but the system has not been found very successful


in practice. Allotments of land for grazing purposes have frequently
to be revoked, because the land is required for cultivation, and very
often what is allotted is too far from the village to be of much use.
In the irrigated tracts no grazing grounds have been reserved at all,
and cultivators here send their cattle to upland villages when turning
them out to grass.

The total area of irrigated land in 1903-4 was 94 square miles,
dependent almost entirely on the Man and Salin Government irrigation
systems. Of this total, more than 90 square miles were under rice.
The Man system begins at Sedaw, a village situated on the Man river
where it leaves the hills, about 20 miles from its mouth, and serves
more than 40 square miles on its northern bank. The Salin system
begins at Theywa, a village on the Salin river 29 miles from the
Irrawaddy, and irrigates more than 50 square miles on both sides of
the Salin. It comprises eighteen canals, the most important of which
is the Myaungmadaw, which, leaving the Salin river at Linzin 1 2 miles
above Salin town, passes through the town, and ultimately reaches the
Paunglin lake. A very important scheme for utilizing the Mon river
for irrigation purposes has recently been sanctioned. A weir is under
construction in the Mon at Mezali, 34 miles from its mouth. By
taking out a canal on each side, the work has been designed to irrigate
both the northern and southern slopes of the valley down to the
Irrawaddy, and thus to serve a total area of 120 square miles of very
rich rice-growing soil. The cost of this scheme is estimated at
2^2,^ lakhs. A certain amount of land is irrigated by small private
canals and tanks. In 1903-4 about 17 square miles were watered
by the former method. The Paunglin" lake supplies about 1,600 acres
of inayin rice.

The revenue obtained from leased fisheries amounted in 1903-4 to
Rs. 24,800. Paunglin lake, the most important of these areas, is split
up into five different sections ; four are leased as fisheries, and in the
other individual licences for catching fish are issued. Another fishery
worthy of mention is the Kekkaya tank, just outside Legaing village.

The total area of 'reserved' forest is 378 square miles, comprising
1 2 different tracts of hilly country, the most important of which are the
Mon ^^'est Reserve (covering 93 square miles) and
the Nwamadaung (covering 36 square miles). The
former extends over elevated and precipitous uplands in the Arakan
Yoma ; the Nwamadaung lies farther to the east, also on high ground.
An extension of the ' reserved ' areas will soon be imperatively needed,
for the forest tribes (practically all Chins) who live by taungya-c\MXr\%
have carried that practice to such a stage as to threaten seriously the
existence of valuable and climatically essential timber-grounds. The
area of ' unclassed ' forest is about 1,183 square miles, much of which is


merely scrub. A tract with a more valuable growth, containing teak
and cutch, is drained by the Sin stream, and it has recently been
proposed to reserve 30 square miles of this. Good timber occurs on
the Podein branch of the Man and its tributaries, while in the higher
parts of the 'unclassed' forest in the south-west of the District Ficiis
elastica yields india-rubber in paying quantities.

The chief trees of economic value in the ' reserved ' forests are ; sha
{Acacia Catechu), yielding some of the best cutch obtainable in Burma ;
kytin or teak {Teciona grandis), found in all the Reserves, though not
in great quantities ; padauk {Pterocarpus indicus), the wood of which is
in great request as material for cart-wheels ; and bamboo, usually the
niyinwa {Dendrocalanuis strictns). The wood of a large number of
trees is used for house-building, most important among which are
ingyin {Pe?itacme sianiefisis), tJiitya {Shorea obtusd), in {Dipterocarpus
tuberculatus), and kusan {Hymenodictyon thyrsifloruni). Charcoal is
burnt in certain localities from the dahat {Tecfo/ia Hatniltoniand) dcadi
than {Terminalia Oliveri), and wood varnish is extracted from the
thitsl-ivQc {Alelanorrhoea usiiata) and used for lacquer. Thitchabo,
the bark of Cintiamomum zeylatiicum, is used medicinally for bruises
and the like, and also chewed with betel. The fibre of the shaw-Xxee
{Sterculia) and gangaia {Mesua ferrea) are obtained high up in the
evergreen forest. Plantations of Acacia Catechu have been made with
a view to increasing the yield of cutch, and more than 800 acres have
been successfully planted. It is interesting to note that the pine
{Fi/ius Khasya) is found on exposed ridges in the Mon ^^'est and
Palaung Reserves, but that it is not worked either for its timber or
its rich supplies of resin. Fire protection is at present attempted in
the Mon West, the Tichaungywa, and the Pasu Reserves, and the
protected area is being extended. The gross forest receipts in 1903-4
amounted to about Rs. 43,000.

The District contains no mines of importance. There are two steatite
quarries, one of inferior quality near Ngape, the other near Pa-aing ; the
amount extracted in 1903 was 15 tons, valued at about Rs. 6,000.
The steatite is dug out in blocks, brought to Pa-aing on pack-bullocks,
and taken from there in carts to Sinbyugyun, where the blocks are
sawn into slabs, which, in their turn, are converted into pencils used
for writing on the black paper memorandum books known as parabaiks.
The borings are from 90 to 100 feet deep. Laterite, clay, gravel, and
sandstone are all worked to some extent. A thirty years' lease for
the working of oil-wells in the Sagu and Minbu circles was granted to
the Burma Oil Company in 1896, but the undertaking had eventually
to be abandoned. There are a few salt-wells in Sidoktaya and Ngape,
but the out-turn is insignificant. Talc, mica, and coal are all found
in the District, but are not at present worked.


Minbu being pre-eminently an agricultural District, it is not surprising
to find that arts and manufactures are few. One small oil refinery
employing about half a dozen men at 'laukshabin
village, and a few aerated water factories employing communications.
about three men each, are the only approach to
special industries the District can boast of. A little weaving is carried
on in the town and villages for domestic consumption ; there are a
certain number of mat-weavers and potters, and a little cutch is boiled
at Sidoktaya. At Thayetkyin, a small village near Salin, the people
manufacture the rough black paper of which parabaiks are made ; but
even this industry is being driven out by the introduction of European
paper. The arts are even worse represented. Sinbyugyun, where
lacquer betel-boxes, brass bowls, and a little wood-carving are turned
out, is the only place worthy of mention in this regard.

The few large traders in the District are mostly either Chinamen or
natives of India. Minbu town in the south and Sinbyugyun in the
north are the two main commercial centres. The chief exports are
cutch, hides, sesamum seed and oil, gram, beans, and other kinds of
agricultural produce; and the main imports are piece-goods, yarn,
salted fish, figaj>i, and, in years of scarcity, rice. The two principal
routes for external trade are the Irrawaddy on the east and the An
pass, which is reached by a track through Ngape, on the west. The
latter is freely used by the pack-bullocks that ply between Kyaukpyu
and the western portion of Minbu.

Internal traffic is mostly by road, and no railways have been
constructed. A stretch of good metalled roadway, 9 miles long,
connects Salin with the Irrawaddy, and a few short lengths of 2 or
3 miles each run out from Minbu town ; but not a single highway
has been metalled for any considerable length. The chief land-
communications are the chain of roads running from south to north
from Thayetmyo to the Pakokku border, passing through Minbu,
Sagu, Legaing, and Salin, by way of Sinbyugyun and Zibyubin ; the
road from Minbu to Ngape, by way of Singaung ; and the road from
Salin to Sun. A track from Salin to Sidoktaya is in course of con-
struction. These are maintained by the Public Works department,
but about 118 miles of road are kept up from the District fund, less
than 4 miles being metalled. Merchandise is conveyed chiefly in
bullock-carts, but where the roads fail in the west of the District pack-
bullocks are used.

The chief waterways for internal trafiic are the rivers Mon and Man.
The Mon is navigable in the rains by 2-ton dug-outs up to the point
where it enters the District. The Man is not navigable during the
dry season at all, but in the rains boats can go as high as Aingma.
The main waterway is, however, the Irrawaddy. Steamers of the


Irravvaddy Flotilla Company ply four times a week, currying mails and
passengers, twice up from Rangoon and twice down from INIandala)-.
The same company also runs a small steamer between Minbu and
Thayetmyo, and a large number of cargo-boats. A steam ferry plies
across the Irrawaddy between Minbu and Magwc, and there are other
local ferries.

Famine, in the worst sense of the word, is unknown in Minbu,
though years of scarcity are not uncommon. Accidents to irrigation
. works, deficiency of rain, and cattle-disease cause

distress ; but agricultural loans relieve the strain,
and emigration to Lower Burma acts as a safety-valve. In i8gi-2
famine was declared, and relief works were started ; but with rain in
the latter part of the year and a flow of imported rice from Lower
Burma the distress quickly subsided, and later, when a new relief work
was opened, not a person volunteered for labour on it. A District
in which so many kinds of ' dry crops ' are grown is always to some
extent armed against drought ; and it is estimated that, even in the
event of a serious famine, the maximum number of persons who would
require daily relief would not exceed 15,000.

For purposes of administration the District is divided into two
subdivisions : Minbu, comprising the townships of Sagu, Legaing,
. . . and Ngapk ; and Salin, comprising those of Salin
and SiDOKTAVA. Minbu is the head-quarters of the
Commissioner of the Division '. The Public AVorks department is
represented by two Executive Engineers, one in charge of the Mon
canals and another in charge of the Salin irrigation subdivision. For
ordinary public works the District forms a subdivision of the
Thayetmyo Public Works diAision. There is a Dei)Uty-(_'onservator of
forests at Minbu, who is also in charge of the Magwe forests. The
total number of village headmen is 458.

The District, subdivisional, and township courts arc ordinaril}'
presided over by the respective executive officers. The head-quarters
magistrate at Minbu, however, acts as additional judge of the District
court, and there is an additional judge in the Salin township court.
'Ihe indigenous population arc on the whole law abiding, and not as
a rule litigious.

Before annexation, revenue in Upper Burma was raised by a fixed
lump assessment on every town {»iyo), and was collected in kind by
the town-headman [myo-wufi), who sold the produce thus collected,
and forwarded to the court officials the whole or so iimch of the
proceeds as he thought would content them. The t/ia/havieda tax,
the chief source of revenue, was introduced by king Mindon, and at

' The transfer of the he; d-quaiteis tu Mai^we has been banclioned, and will
piuLabl} lake place shurll}.


first stood at Rs. 3 per household. Subsequently it was raised until
it reached an average of about Rs. 10. Along the JNIon valley the
tax seems to have been treated as a tax partly on households and
partly on land, the average rate being Rs, 10. Every household was
assessed, in the first instance, at only Rs. 5, the balance varying
according to the quantity and (juality of the land worked by the
ta.xpayer. A direct land tax was also levied on certain kinds of state
land : namely, irrigated and viayin (hot-season) rice lands, some kyun
(island) and kaing (alluvial) lands, and certain lands devoted to the
upkeep of pagodas and other religious property. Irrigated state land
paid much the same proportion of out-turn in revenue as non-state
land paid in rent to the local landlords. In Salin the amount was
usually one-half or one-third, in Sagu and Legaing one-half to one-
fourth. Mayin rice lands paid sometimes one-fifth of their out-turn,
and sometimes Rs. 10 per 10 saiks (about z acres). KyiDi lands were
variously assessed ; and alluvial lands, if of good quality, vrould pay
about one-fifth : if poor, one-tenth of their produce.

After annexation the Burmese methods of assessment were at first
generall}- maintained; but in 1890 an ad interim system was intro-
duced under which Government dealt direct with the cultivators,
instead of through (jfficials like the myo-unins, and the rate at which
rice was to be commuted was fixed annually by the Deputy-Com-
missioner according to market rates. Lump-sum assessments and acre
rates were abolished, the kan (roughly 75 square cubits) was taken as
the unit, and rates were raised all round. \i the same time crop out-
turns were measured, and statistics collected as to the cost of culti-
vation, with the result that in the following year (1891-2) the rates
were generally reduced. By 1893 the cadastral survey of most of the
District was completed, and in that year regular settlement operations
were started. They were finished by the end of 1897, but did not
include the townships of Ngape and Sidoktaya, which were summarily
settled in 1901. As a result the main rates, as finally sanctioned for
fi\e years in 1899, were as follows: irrigated rice, Rs. 2 to Rs. 7 per
acre ; alluvial rice {faze), R. 1 ti; Rs. 4-8 ; hot-season rice, Rs. 4 ;
unirrigated rice, Rs. 1-8 or Rs. 2-8. Alluvial crops other than
rice pay from Rs. 2 to Rs. 7, and upland (^ya) crops are assessed at
rates varying from 4 annas to Rs. 1-8 per acre. These figures all
refer to state land ; other land pays three-fourths of these rates. The
average size of a holding (including fallows) is — for irrigated rice,
7^ acres ; for taze rice, 5| acres ; for mayiti rice, 2\ acres ; for mogaung
rice, 6\ acres ; for ya crops, 8| acres ; and for alluvial [kaing) crops,
5*- acres.

As the result of the summary settlement of the Ngape and Sidoktaya
townships in 1901, the rate for irrigated rice has been fixed at Rs. 4


or Rs. 3, according to the quality of the soil, while unirrigated rice
pays Rs. 2, ya land from 8 annas to R. i, and alluvial crops from
R. I to Rs. 5 per acre. The average size of a holding in the
summarily settled tract is — for rice land, 4 acres ; for gardens, i^ acres ;
and iox ya land, 7 acres.

The following table shows the fluctuations in the revenue since
1 890-1, in thousands of rupees : —

1890-1. 1 1900-1.


Land revenue
Total revenue

90 4.13


The large increase in land revenue between 1 890-1 and 1 900-1 is
due to the settlement. Thathameda fell, on the introduction of acre
rates, from 4 lakhs in 1890-1 to Rs. 2,41,000 in 1900-1, but rose to
Rs. 2,58,000 in 1903-4.

The income of the District fund in 1903-4 was Rs, 27,000, half of
which was spent on public works. There are two municipalities in
the District, those of Minbu and Salin.

For police purposes the District is in charge of a District Super-
intendent, and is divided into two subdivisions which are under an
Assistant Superintendent or an inspector. The strength of the force
is 3 inspectors, 13 head constables, 34 sergeants, and 429 constables;
and there are 11 police stations and 13 outposts. The contingent of
military police belongs to the Magwe battalion, and consists chiefly
of Sikhs and Punjabis with an admixture of Karens. The sanctioned
strength is 5 native officers and 180 rifles, of whom 3 native officers
and no rifles are stationed at Minbu, and the remainder at Salin and
Pwinbyu. Minbu no longer contains a jail, and convicts are sent
to Magwe.

The District, in spite of its large total of Chins, who are practically
all uneducated, had in 1901 the largest proportion of males able to
read and write in the Province, namely 53-3 per cent., a result which
is largely the outcome of the energy of the local monastic teachers.
For the population as a whole, male and female, the proportion was
27-3 per cent. The number of pupils in public and private schools
was 3,417 in 1891 and 7,793 in 1901, and the proportion to the total
population of school-going age in the last-named year was estimated
at 25 per cent. In 1904 there were 9 secondary, 167 primary, and
419 elementary (private) schools, with an attendance of 7,896 (including
349 girls). Of lay institutions, the most important is the Government
high school at Minbu. The total educational expenditure in 1903-4
amounted to Rs. 21,000, of which Rs. 3,000 was derived from fees,
and the rest from Provincial funds.


Minbu and Salin possess hospitals, and there is a small dispensary
at Sinbyugyun, at the mouth of the Salin river. The two hospitals
have accommodation for 50 in-patients, of whom 508 were treated in
1903, the total number of out-patients during the same year being
15,303, and that of operations 242. Towards their combined income
of Rs. 8,300 the two municipalities contributed Rs. 3,900, Provincial
funds Rs. 3,700, and private subscribers Rs. 600. The dispensary at
Sinbyugyun is maintained wholly from Provincial funds.

Vaccination is compulsory only within the two municipalities. In
1903-4 the number of persons successfully vaccinated was 5,496,
representing 24 per 1,000 of population.

[O. S. Parsons, Settlement Report {i

Online LibraryGreat Britain. India OfficeImperial gazetteer of India .. (Volume 17) → online text (page 42 of 51)