William Wilson Hunter.

The imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 3) online

. (page 31 of 56)
Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 3) → online text (page 31 of 56)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


number of boats. The port Census in 1881 also included a portion of
the river north of the actual port limits, which was not included on the
last occasion. Taking the population of the whole of Calcutta and the
suburbs, the result shows a nominal decrease of 0*29 per cent, in 1881,
as compared with the previous enumeration. The population within
Calcutta may therefore be considered as stationary; but it must be
remembered that the people tend to move outwards to the environs.



256 CALCUTTA.

As regards accuracy, the Census officers report that there is no reason
to doubt the correctness of the enumeration.

Religious and Caste Classification. — Of the total population of the
town, port, and suburbs, 428,692, or 62 percent., are Hindus; 221,013,
or 32*2 per cent., are Muhammadans ; 30,478, or 4*4 per cent., are
Christians; 488 are Brahmos ; 1705 Buddhists; 143 Jains; 986 Jews;
142 Parsis; 284 Sikhs ; while 727 belong to other (chiefly aboriginal)
religions. Among the Hindus, Brahmans number 52,241, and Kayasths
52,351 ; these two castes numbering about one-fourth of the total
Hindu population. Next to them come Kaibarttas, 34,262 ; Chamars,
skinners and leather workers, 21,501 ; Subarnabaniyas, goldsmiths and
jewellers, 17,535; Tantis, weavers, 16,458 ; Vaishnavs, 15,765 ; Bagdis,
1 3A33', Gwalas, 12,274; Sadgops, 11,543; Kahars, 11,041; Teh's,
10,769; and Mehtars, 10,636. Of the 221,013 Muhammadans, no
fewer than 213,334 are returned as of the Sunni sect. Among the
Christian population, out of a total of 17,226 Protestants, 8768 returned
themselves as members of the Church of England, 1869 as members of
the Church of Scotland, 857 as Baptists, 692 as Methodists, 230 as
Independents or Congregationalists, and 329 as Lutherans. Other
Dissenters number 116. No less than 4365 persons returned them-
selves simply as Protestant, without further specification of sect, the
majority of whom belong no doubt to the Church of England. Roman
Catholics numbered 11,095 ; Armenians, 649; Greeks, 133 ; while 1297
persons have simply entered themselves as Christians, without any
specification of sect. Unitarians and Theists were returned at 29 ; and
Agnostics and 'others' at 49 in number. The Native Christian
community numbered, in 1881, 4101, distributed among the following
sects: — Roman Catholics, 1358; Church of England, 724; Scotch
Church, 242; Baptists, 351; Methodists, 92; Congregationalists,
131; Plymouth Brethren, 8; other Protestants, 589; and sect not
specified, 606.

The Governing Body, or Municipality of Calcutta, was created by
Act vi. of 1863 (Bengal Council), and has been remodelled by
subsequent legislation, on a basis of popular election. It consists of a
body of Justices of the Peace or Commissioners, a certain number ot
whom are elected by the ratepayers, while the remainder are nominated
by the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal. The native element is largely
represented in this body. A salaried chairman, selected by the
Lieutenant-Governor from the Covenanted Civil Service, directs the
whole, aided by a deputy chairman and other subordinates appointed
by the Justices themselves. The Justices or Commissioners receive no
pay. In 1882, the ordinary revenue of the municipality amounted to
^270,712, of which the principal items were as follows: — House-rate,
^96,569; taxes, ^45,018; water-rates and sale of water, ^49.549;



CALCUTTA.



257



lighting rate, .£24,586. The ordinary expenditure in the same year
amounted to ,£226,560, of which .£167,157 was debitable to the
general fund, ,£37,025 to the water-rate fund, and .£22,377 to the
lighting of the town. Including capital account receipts, loans, suspense
account, and cash balances, the total amount at the disposal of the
Justices during the year was ,£599, I i9- The aggregate expenditure
under both revenue and capital account amounted to ^484,997. The
total loan liabilities of the corporation on the 31st March 1883
amounted to .£1,521,453, or deducting ,£233,114, the nominal value
of the sinking fund on that date, to ,£1,288,338. The total length of
roads in Calcutta at the end of 1882 was 160 miles, comprising 72 J
miles of stone metalled roads, 64 miles of brick metalled roads, and
23J miles of minor roads over sewered ditches. Expenditure on road
repairs and construction in 1882, ^25,232. A Tramway Company,
subject to certain municipal rules and bye-laws, maintained at the end
of 1882 a service along the principal roads and streets for a length
exceeding 17 miles. The tramway has proved a great convenience to
the public, and its lines of rail are being extended.

The Water-Supply forms the most important undertaking under the
care of the municipality. The present system dates from 1865, when
the sanction of Government was given to the construction of works
which now pour upwards of eight million gallons a day of filtered water
into the city. The source of supply is from the Hugh at Palta, about
16 miles above Calcutta. The works there consist of two large suction
pipes, 30 inches in diameter, through which the water is drawn from
the river by three engines, each of 50 horse-power nominal. The water
is then passed into six settling tanks, each 500 feet long by 250 feet
wide. Here it is allowed to stand for 36 hours, when it is permitted
to run off to the filters, eight in number, the area of each being 200 by
100 feet. After filtration, the water is made to flow over a marble
platform, where its purity can be observed. It is then conducted to
Calcutta by a 42-inch iron main. The main works were finished in
1870, and connected with pipes laid under 100 miles of streets. The
total number of house connections up to December 31, 1874, was 8159 ;
by 1882 they had increased to 14,245, with a constantly augmenting
demand. The total quantity of filtered water delivered during 1874
amounted to 2,524,566 gallons. By 1882, the supply, owing to the
increased demand, had risen to 2,855,970,421 gallons, or an average
daily supply of 7,824,576 gallons, equal to eighteen gallons per head
of the ' town,' port, and fort population. The demand is of course
greatest in the hot weather; and in the quarter May-July 18S3, an
average daily quantity of 8,279,167 gallons, or nineteen gallons per
head, was delivered in the city. Owing to the increasing wants of the
town for filtered water for purely domestic purposes, it has been found

VOL. III. R *



2 5% CALCUTTA.

necessary to increase greatly the supply of unnltered water for the
watering of streets, flushing of sewers, building operations, etc., for
which filtered water was formerly used. In 1883, a daily average of
three million gallons of unnltered water was pumped direct from the
Hugh' for these purposes. Still more powerful engines commenced work
in 1884, just below the pontoon bridge. The total cost of filtered water
supplied to the town amounted in 1882 to a fraction less than 4 d. per
thousand gallons, and of unnltered water to id. per thousand gallons.

The Drainage Works are on an equally extensive scale. The main
sewers are underground ; and for the proper discharge of their contents
m the direction of the Salt Lake, a pumping station is maintained at
an annual cost of £3000. The system of underground drainage now
(1883) virtually completed comprises 3677 miles of main brick sewers,
and 113*14 miles of pipe sewers; total length, 149-91 miles. In 1863,
on the constitution of the present municipality, a health officer with a
subordinate establishment was appointed. The practice of throwing
corpses into the river has been stopped ; and the burning ghats and
burial-grounds have been placed under supervision. All refuse and
night-soil are removed by the municipality by a special railway to the
Salt Lake.

The city is lighted by a private gas company, under contract "with
the municipality, 4621 gas lamps and 140 oil lamps being paid for at
the public expense (1882). The fire brigade consisted of two steam
fire-engines and five hand-engines. Its annual cost is about ^2000.

The Police of Calcutta is under the control of the Commissioner, who
is also the Chairman of the Justices. Beneath him there is a Deputy
Commissioner. The force consisted in 1882 of 4 superintendents, 219
subordinate officers of various grades, 1227 constables, and 6 mounted
constables, maintained at a yearly cost of .£42,389, of which Govern-
ment contributed one-fourth. Several minor bodies, such as the river
police, Fort police, preventive police, Government guards, etc., raise
the entire strength of the force in the town and on the river to 2297
men. The great majority are natives, the number of European and
Eurasian sergeants and constables being only 81. The Suburban police
consisted in the same year of 2 superintendents, 60 subordinate officers
of various grades, 654 constables, and 8 detective officers, maintained
at a cost of .£15,374, the cost being about equally divided between the
municipality and. the Government.

The Jails in Calcutta and the suburbs are the Presidency jail, with
a total daily average prison population in 1881-82 of 75-14 Europeans
and 1146-99 natives; the Alipur jail, with a daily average prison popu-
lation of 1999-14; and the Rassa jail for females, with a daily average
prison population of 175-15. The Alipur and Rassa jails are central
prisons, and receive long-term convicts from other Districts.



CALCUTTA. 259

The Statistics of Education in Calcutta in 1883 were as follows: —
There were 4 Government colleges, namely, the Presidency College,
founded in 1855, and attended by 383 pupils in the General Depart-
ment and 1 1 in the Law Department ; the Sanskrit College, established
in 1824, attended by 57 pupils in the Upper and 195 in the Lower
Division ; the Calcutta Madrasa or Muhammadan College, founded
in 1781, number of pupils 442; the Bethune Girls' School, with 4
pupils in the College Department. This last-named institution has
passed two pupils at the examination of the Calcutta University for the
degree of B.A. There were also 5 colleges mainly supported by
missionary efforts, but aided by Government, which were attended by
951 pupils. The number of unaided colleges was 4, three of them under
native management. These had an aggregate number of 653 pupils in
the General and 404 in the Law Department. There were also the
College of Engineering at Howrah, attended by 166 pupils; the
Calcutta Medical College, with 126 pupils; the Government School of
Art, with 96 pupils ; and the Campbell Vernacular Medical School, with
140 pupils. The total number of schools in Calcutta reported on in
1883 by the Education Department was 291, with 25,124 scholars; 149
of them were for males, teaching 20,008 boys ; the remaining 142 are
for girls and Zenana ladies, teaching 5 116 pupils. According to a
different principle of classification, 82 schools taught English to 14,055
boys; 75 taught the vernacular only to 3521 boys ; 119 were vernacular
schools for girls, with 2848 pupils ; and 3 were normal schools, instruct-
ing 68 male and 46 female teachers. Of the total number of pupils
in these schools, 73*5 per cent, were returned as Hindus, 17*3
Christians, 7*5 Musalmans, while the remaining 17 per cent, were
of other persuasions. The total ascertained expenditure on colleges
and special institutions was ,£58,746, and on schools of all classes
£85,698, being a total of £144,444, of which the Government con-
tributed £61,097.

The Medical Charities of Calcutta comprise the Medical College
Hospital, the General Hospital, the Mayo Hospital (for natives only),
the Campbell Hospital, the Municipal Police Hospital, the Howrah
Hospital on the opposite side of the river, and minor dispensaries. In
July 1882, the Eden Hospital for women and children was opened, to
meet a want long felt in Calcutta. The General Hospital is confined
almost solely to Europeans. The total amount contributed by Govern-
ment to these institutions in 1882 was £23,224, or just under 6^ per
cent, of their total expenditure. The total number of persons treated
in these institutions in 1882 was 20,579 in-door and 232,504 out-door
patients, the proportion of deaths to patients treated being 14373 per
thousand. Cholera deaths in hospital in 1882 numbered 468 out of a
total of 859 treated, or an average mortality of 54 J per cent. The



2 6o CALCUTTA.

general hospital mortality is largely attributable to numerous admissions
of moribund and hopeless cases in the Campbell and Howrah Hospitals.
In 1882, the total number of deaths registered in Calcutta proper
amounted to 13,177, or 30*4 per thousand of the population, as against
a mean registered mortality of 29*4 per thousand in the preceding ten
years. This increase is mainly due to cholera, to which 2240 deaths
were attributed in 1882, as compared with a mean of 134 1 during the
previous years. The mortality from other diseases in 1882 was —
diarrhoea and dysentery, 1454; fevers, 3618; small-pox, 17; other
causes, 5848: total, 13,177.

Mortuary Returns are collected in Calcutta by the police inspectors,
and compared with the registers kept by paid clerks of the municipality
at the burning ghats and burial-grounds. The death-rate among the
Europeans in 1882 was 15*5 per thousand, among the Eurasians 45 '5,
among the Hindus 32*6, and among the Muhammadans 27*1. The
general death-rate of the population was 30-4 per thousand. The
highest death-rate was in January, November, and December, and the
lowest in July and August. The rains are the healthiest season in
Calcutta, because the tw r o main causes of mortality, fever and cholera,
are at a minimum during those months. A system of birth registration
is also in operation in Calcutta; but the returns, although slowly
improving year by year, greatly understate the facts, and there is no
doubt that a considerable number of births escape registration.

The Mean Temperature of Calcutta is about 79 F. The highest
temperature recorded during the last 24 years is 106 in the shade, and
the lowest 527 . The extreme range is therefore a little over 53 ,
while the mean temperatures of December and May, the coldest and
hottest months, are 68'o° and 86'i° respectively. The average tempera-
ture in 1882 was a fraction below the mean, ranging from a minimum
mean of 677 in January to a maximum of S^S in June. The average
rainfall during 48 years has been 66-38 inches,— the highest rainfall on
record being 93-31 inches in 187 1, and the lowest 43*61 inches in 1837.
The rainfall in 1882 was just equal to the average, 66 -i 8 inches. By
far the greater part of the rain falls between the months of June and
October.

Cyclones.— Like the rest of the seaboard of the Bay of Bengal,
Calcutta is exposed to periodical cyclones, which do much mischief.
Terrible storms are recorded as having swept across Calcutta in the
last century, throwing down houses and flooding the city. The tempest
of which perhaps the best scientific observations exist is that of 1864.
The greatest pressure of the wind registered has been 50 lbs. to the square
foot. In the storms of 1864 and 1867, the anemometer was blown
away. A great loss of life and property was caused along the Hugh by
the storm of October 5, 1864. In Calcutta and its suburbs, 49 persons



CALCUTTA. 261

were killed and 16 wounded, 102 brick houses were destroyed and
r6^ severely damaged; 40,698 tiled and straw huts were levelled with
the -round. The destruction of shipping in the port of Calcutta
appears greatly to have exceeded that on record in any previous storm.
Out of 195 vessels only 23 remained uninjured, and 31, with an aggre-
gate tonnage of 27,653 tons, were totally wrecked. On November 2,
!S6 7 the force of the wind was not less violent, but there was no
storm wave, and consequently the amount of damage done was much

The Port of Calcutta, extending 10 miles along the Hugh', with
an average width of working channel of 250 yards, and with moorings
for 169 vessels, is under the management of a body of 9 European
gentlemen styled 'Commissioners for making Improvements in the
Port of Calcutta.' This body was constituted in 1870, and has since
that date received considerable additions to its powers. In 187 1, they
were also appointed < Bridge Commissioners,' to take charge of the
floating bridge then being constructed over the Hugh', and to work it
when completed. This bridge, finished in 1874, now supplies a per-
manent connection between Calcutta and the railway terminus on the
Howrah side of the river. As already stated, it is constructed on
pontoons, and affords a roadway for foot travellers and vehicles A
section of it is opened at fixed hours, on certain days of the week, so
as to allow vessels to pass up the Hdgli beyond it. The main duty of
the Port Commissioners consists in providing accommodation, by jetties
and warehouses, for the shipping and native boats, which carry on the
great and increasing trade of Calcutta. In October 1881 the Port
Commissioners were invested with further powers and responsibilities as
conservators of the port approaches, and with the control of the port
establishment, lighthouses, lightships, and harbour vessels.

These new powers extend the supervision of the Port Commis-
sioners down the whole length of the Hdgli to the sea. The
condition of the Hdgli' channels has attracted their serious attention
and a project has been revived for supplementing the Hugh approach
to Calcutta by another water-way from the south-east. In 1864 00,
it was proposed to make Port Canning, on the Matla river, a subsidiary
port to Calcutta; and a railway of 28 miles was constructed to
connect the two points. This scheme failed, however, to attain any
commercial success (see Port Canning). The growing commerce of
Calcutta, and the necessity of providing for the safe storage of the great
imports of kerosine and mineral oils beyond the limits of the port,
have led to the reconsideration of the Matla project. It is now pro-
posed that a ship canal should take off from that river and debouch on
the Hugh' near the Kidderpur dockyard, within the limits of the Port ot
Calcutta An alternative water-way would thus be supplied for the



262 CALCUTTA.

commerce of the capital. Calcutta would no longer be dependent
upon the shifting channels of the Hiigli ; and Port Canning would afford
a place of storage for the mineral oils whose increasing importation has
become a source of danger to the crowded shipping in the Calcutta
Port, notwithstanding the precautions adopted to land that explosive
material below its limits. The expense of the scheme will be great ; and
its consideration by Government has not yet arrived at a stage when it
would be safe to predict the issue. A decision will probably be come
to before I reach the articles Matla River and Port Canning (q.v.).

Shipping and Tonnage of Calcutta.— In 1727, the whole shipping
of the port was estimated at 10,000 tons. In 1759, 30 vessels sailed
from Calcutta, aggregating 3964 tons burthen. During the n months
ending April 181 2, the total trade, both export and import, amounted
to 9 J millions sterling, carried on by 600 vessels aggregating 150,000
tons. The number of vessels arriving and departing in 1861-62 was
1793, with an aggregate tonnage of 1,337,632 tons; in 1873-74,
the number of vessels was 1927, tonnage 2,437,447; while in 1881-82,
an aggregate of 2132 vessels arrived and departed, with a total tonnage
°f 3*582,989 tons - The number of steamers, especially of steamers
passing through the Suez Canal, is greatly on the increase ; in 1881-82,
the arrivals of steamers at Calcutta numbered 239.

Foreign Sea-borne Commerce. — The growth of the trade of Calcutta is
shown by the following figures :— In 1820-21, the total value of foreign
exports and imports, including treasure, was ,£10,454,910; in 1830-31,
^8,756,382; in 1840-41, ,£15,202,697; in 1850-51, ^£18,754,025;
in 1860-61, ,£31,794,671; in 1870-71, ,£49,316,738; in 1874-75,
^54,288,555; and in 1881-82, over 55! millions. The value of the
customs duties (including salt) was in 1820-21, £151,817; in 1830-31,
,£121,321; in 1840-41, ^495.515; in 1850-51, ,£1,038,365; in
1860-61, ,£2,270,654; in 1870-71, ^£3,548, 926. The practical
abolition of the customs tariff renders a comparison of 1881 and
187 1 of no value. About 95J per cent, of the foreign import trade
of Bengal, and 97*8 per cent, of the foreign export trade, are carried
on through Calcutta. A decline to the extent of nearly ,£2,000,000
took place in the imports of 1881-82, as compared with those
of the previous year, owing to the reduced receipts of cotton
goods. This was mainly due to excessive importations in 1880-81,
and not to any falling off in the general standard of comfort, the
maintenance of which is indicated by the fact that the imports
of gold were higher by ,£40,000 in 1881-82 than in 1880-81. The
export foreign trade during 1881-82 amounted to ,£33,526,111, showing
an advance of ,£557,694, or i'6 per cent., over the previous year. An
increase of ,£837,241 took place in the exports of Indian free mer-
chandise, and a decrease of ,£251,980 in rice, although the quantity



CALCUTTA. 263

exported was greater by 21,000 tons than in the preceding year. Had
the prices of 1880-81 been maintained, the total exports of all kinds
from Calcutta would have been higher by nearly ;£ 1,000,000 than in
that vear.

The fluctuations in the foreign trade of Calcutta during 1881-82 may
be thus summarised. In the trade with the United Kingdom a falling
off of 178 per cent, took place, owing mainly to the decline in the
importation of piece-goods. In metals there was a decline of about
;£ j 85,000 ; and candles, precious stones, umbrellas, and woollen goods
all fell off to some extent. Among the exports to Great Britain, jute,
tea, and wheat showed an increase ; while linseed, raw cotton, rice, and
indigo declined. One-half of the falling off in the trade with Hong-
Kong, which amounted to nearly ^"600,000, was partly balanced by an
increase of ^300,000 in the trade with the Treaty Ports. Larger
importations of Californian silver from Hong-Kong account for the
greater part of the increased imports from that port. Imports from the
United States, which fell off by about ^80,000 in 1880-81, improved
during the year by about ^70,000, due almost entirely to large arrivals
of kerosine oil. A further decline of about ^£50,000 took place
in the exports to America, which in 1880-81 were nearly ^600,000
behind those of the previous year, owing in great part to the substitution
of machine-made ice for the imported commodity. The exports of
indigo were low in 1880-81, owing possibly to the fear of the production
of artificial indigo, which checked the operations of speculators ; and
the possibility of the ultimate substitution of artificial dye for the natural
product is a contingency which it behoves planters to carefully bear in
mind. The trade with the Straits Settlements amounted to ^2, 17 1,841,
being larger by .£39,178 than in the previous year, almost the whole cf
the increase being due to the exports of opium, gunny-bags, and rice.
A slight fall of £25,000 occurred in the trade with France, which,
however, was still higher than in t 879-80 by £430,000. The decline
was mainly due to the large imports of silk goods in 1880-81, which
had to some extent overstocked the market. Exports of manufactured
Indian silks to France increased, and there were large increases in the
exports of wheat and jute. A satisfactory advance occurred in the trade
with Australia. The advance in the exports of tea, which amounted to
£57,000, maybe regarded as an indication of a further development of
the taste for Indian tea in Australia, which, with care on the part of
the growers, will probably result in the establishment in those colonies
of a large permanent market for the consumption of one of the most
important products of British India. The trade of Calcutta passing
through the Suez Canal, though showing some falling off in 1881-82
as compared with 1880-81, was yet larger than in any year previous
to 1880. The value of both imports and exports carried by this route



264 CALCUTTA

in



1S81-82 was £32,489,491, and there was an increase of one per
cent, in the proportion of foreign trade using the canal. The following
paragraphs show the extent and value of the different staples of Calcutta
foreign trade.

Imports.— Imports of cotton twist and yarn in 1881-82 amounted
to 14,221,951 lbs., valued at ,£1,164,585, a considerable decline on
1880-81, which was mainly due, as stated above, to excessive importa-



Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 3) → online text (page 31 of 56)