Frank David Ascoli’s Revenue History of Sundarbans during the Period 1870- 1920 looks at the area bounded on the north by the limits of Permanent Settlement in 24-Parganas, Khulna and Bakarganj districts and on the south by the sea face stretching from the Hughli estuary to the mouth of the Meghna River. A quarter of this large area consisted of water out of 19,501 sq. km. For administrative purposes the Division was grouped in three circles known as the Bagerhat, Khulna and Satkhira. Revenue stations were established at all the principal points of egress from the Sundarbans, and purchasers proceed to the forests and take their requirements from any locality they choose. The process of land formation appears to have been followed by the growth of different vegetation and plants which turned into forest it left uncleared. The entire Sundarban tract is managed by the Forest Department, which has operated a yearly auction for cutting rights for many decades. In this way the Sundarbans emerged between the Bay of Bengal and the fringes of the Bengal delta. The revenue history of the Sundarbans is distinct from that of the rest of the district that presents several peculiar features, so that a separate account of it is necessary. It is apparent that some of the most forbidding remnants of Sundarbans jungle were transformed into fertile rice fields, schools, dispensaries, post offices, markets and cooperative societies.
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Table of Contents
1 Introductory Part I Rules and Administrative System from 1870 to 1920 2. Forest Grant Rules from 1870 to 1879 3. Forest Grant Rules from 1879 to 1902 4. Forest Grant Rules Period of Transition (1902 to 1905) 5. Forest Grant Rules from 1905 to 1920 6. Abolition of the Offices of the Commissioner in the Sundarbans Part II (A) Administration and Development from 1870 to 1903 7. Creation of Reserved and Protected Forests 8. Development from 1870 to 1903 (B) Administration and Development from 1903 to 1920 9. The Bākarganj Sundarbans: Survey and Settlement Operations 10. The Bākarganj Sundarbans: The Colonization Scheme 11. The Khulnā Sundarbans 12. The 24-Parganās Sundarbans: General 13. The 24-Parganās Sundarbans: Fraserganj 14. The 24-Parganās Sundarbans: Sagar Islands 15. The Problem of the Sundarbans Appendix A
F.D. Ascoli was born in August 1888 and got his education from Exeter College, Oxford. He was the Managing Director, Dunlop Plantations Ltd.; Director, Dunlop Malayan Estates Ltd. and Semtex Ltd. He entered Indian Civil Service in 1907 and held the post of Secretary, Board of Revenue, Bengal, 1917-20. He was also the settlement officer of Dacca. He retired from Indian Civil Service in 1926.
Ananda Bhattacharyya is Assistant Director of the West Bengal State Archives. His many publications include Sir William Wilson Hunter: Bengal MS Records – A Selected List of 14,136 Letters in the Board of Revenue, Calcutta, 1782-1807, with an Historical Dissertation and Analytical Index, 4 vols (2018); A History of the Dasnami Naga Sannyasis (2018); Adivasi Resistance in Early Colonial India (2017); Remembering Komagata Maru: Official Reports and Contemporary Accounts (2016); Notes on the Races, Castes and Trades of Eastern Bengal (2016); Sannyasi and Fakir Rebellion in Bengal: Jamini Mohan Ghosh Revisited (2014); F.D. Ascoli: Early Revenue History of of Bengal and the Fifth Report, 1812 (2019) and Frederick Eden Pargiter: A Revenue History of the Sundarbans from 1765 to 1870 (2019).