The word ‘Mahal’ means village. Under Mahalwari System, the settlement was made with ‘Mahal’ instead of individual peasant. The system was implemented in western part of United Provinces, Punjab and some parts of Central Provinces. There was more village unity in these areas. Halt Mackenzie is believed to be its pioneer. The system got legal sanction in 1822, however, it developed only in 1833-1834.
Features of Mahalwari System
- Land revenue settlement was made with Mahal or gram. Local Zamindar or Lambardar was responsible, on behalf of all peasants, for the payment of land revenue.
- Initially, in 1833, two-third of net produce was fixed as land revenue but later it was reduced to one-half of net produce.
- The peasant had to deposit the revenue to the zamindar. The percentage, which each peasant had to pay, was same but the quantity varied.
- The peasant was free to sell or mortgage their land.
- The settlement was made for thirty years and in some places for twenty years.
Benefits to the Government
- Collection of land revenue from one person instead of all the peasants of the village was easier and cheaper for the Government.
- The system was already prevailing in some areas; therefore the Government had no problem in implementing it.
- The Government was assured of its income for the next 20-30 years.
The peasants, on the other hand, had very little to cheer. They could take solace from the fact that they were saved from a possible corrupt revenue official of the Government and that they had better control over their land. But they had to face some real difficulties which are given below.
- High rate of taxation, which was fifty per cent of ‘net produce.
- The idea of net produce was very vague as we have discussed in the previous section on Ryotwari Settlement.
- The zamindars and the lambardars were present to exploit the peasants.
- The moneylenders, by clever means, captured the mortgaged land.