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PAPERS RELATING TO THE DURBAR CHANGES.

21. We now pass on to the last proposal, viz., to restore the Chief Commissionership of Assam. This would be merely a reversion to the policy advocated by Sir John Lawrence in 1867. This part of India is still in a backward condition and more fit for administration by a Chief Commissioner than a more highly developed form of government, and we may notice that this was the view which prevailed in 1896-1897, when the question of transferring the Chittagong Division and the Dacca and Mymensing districts to Assam was first discussed: Events of the past 12 months on the frontiers of Assam and Burma have clearly shown the necessity of having the north-east frontier, like the north-west frontier, more directly under the control of the Government of India and removed from that of the local Government. We may add that we do not anticipate that any opposition will be raised to this proposal, which, moreover, forms an essential part of our scheme.

22. We will now give a rough indication of the cost of the scheme. No attempt at accuracy is possible, because we have purposely avoided making enquiries, as they would be likely to result in the premature disclosure of our proposals. The cost of the transfer to Delhi would be considerable. We cannot conceive, however, that a large sum than 4 million sterling would be necessary, and within that figure probably could be found the three years' interest on capital which would have to be paid till the necessary works and buildings were completed. We might find it necessary to issue a " City of Delhi" Gold loan at 3% guaranteed by the Government of India, the interest, or the larger part of the interest on this loan being eventually obtainable from rents and taxes. In connection with a general enhancement of land values, which would ensue at Delhi as a result of the transfer, we should endeavour to secure some part of the increment value, which at Calcutta has gone into the pockets of the landlords. Other assets which would form a set-off to the expenditure would be the great rise of Government land at Delhi and its neighbourhood, and a considerable amount which would be realised on the sale of Government land and buildings no longer required at Calcutta. The proximity of Delhi to Simla would also have the effect of reducing the current expenditure involved in the annual move to and from Simla. The actual railway journey from Calcutta to Simla takes 42 hours, while Delhi can be reached from Simla in 14 hours. Further, inasmuch as the Government of India would be able to stay longer in Delhi than in Calcutta, the cost on account of hill allowances would be reduced. We should also add that many of the works now in progress at Delhi in connection with the construction of roads and railways and the provision of electricity and water for the Durbar, and upon which considerable expenditure has been incurred, will be of appreciable value to the Government of India as permanent works when the transfer is made.

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