Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official eBook

William Henry Sleeman
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,051 pages of information about Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official.

12.  The cost of establishing a grove varies much according to circumstances, of which the distance of water from the surface is the most important.  Where water is distant, the cost of constructing and working a well is very high.  Where water is near, these items of expense are small, because the roots of the trees soon reach a moist stratum, and can dispense with irrigation.

13.  The author, in his appreciation of the value of arboriculture and forest conservancy, was far in advance of his Anglo-Indian contemporaries.  A modern meteorologist might object to some of his phraseology, but the substance of his remarks is quite sound.  His statement of the ways in which trees benefit climate is incomplete.  One important function performed by the roots of trees is the raising of water from the depths below the surface, to be dispersed by the leaves in the form of vapour.  Trees act beneficially in many other ways also, which it would be tedious to specify.

The Indian Government long remained blind to the importance of the duty of saving the country from denudation.  The first forest conservancy establishments were organized in 1852 for Madras and Burma, and, by Act vii of 1865, the Forest Department was established on a legal basis.  Its operations have since been largely extended, and trained foresters are now sent out each year to India.  The Department at the present time controls many thousand square miles of forest.  The reader may consult the article ‘Forests’ in Balfour, Cyclopaedia, 3rd ed., and sundry official reports for further details.

A yearly grant for arboriculture is now made to every district.  Thousands of miles of roads have been lined with trees, and multitudes of groves have been established by both Government and private individuals.  The author was himself a great tree-planter.  In a letter dated 15th December, 1844, he describes the avenue which he had planted along the road from Maihar to Jubbulpore in 1829 and 1830, and another, eighty-six miles long, from Jhansi Ghat on the Nerbudda to Chaka.  The trees planted were banyan, pipal, mango, tamarind, and jaman (Eugenia jambolana).  He remarks that these trees will last for centuries.

14.  ’In 1899-1900 Malwa suffered from a severe famine, such as had not visited this favoured spot for more than thirty years.  The people were unused to, and quite unprepared for, this calamity, the distress being aggravated by the great influx of immigrants from Rajputana, who had hitherto always been sure of relief in this region, of which the fertility is proverbial.  In 1903 a new calamity appeared in the shape of plague, which has seriously reduced the agricultural population in some districts’ (I.G., 1908, xvii. 105).


Cities and Towns, formed by Public Establishments, disappear as Sovereigns and Governors change their Abodes.

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