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History of Povai (1799 – 1851)

Povai, on a hill near Vehar in Salsette, has 500 Christians and a church dedicated to the Holy Trinity. It measures thirty feet long, twenty-four wide, and twenty-eight high, and was built with the stones of an older church which is now used as a burying ground.

Povai gives its name to the Framji Kavasji Povai estate, which, besides Povai, includes the villages of Tirandaj, Koprikhurd, Saki, Paspoli, and Tungave. The estate, except Tungave, was originally given in perpetual farm to Dr. Scott in 1799, on payment of a yearly quit-rent of £320 (Rs. 3200). After Dr. Scott’s death in 1816, the quit-rent was not paid and the property was attached by Government in 1826. In 1829 it was again leased in perpetual farm to the late Framji Kavasji, a Parsi merchant in Bombay, and, in 1837, was, on payment of £4747 (Rs. 47,470), conveyed to him in fee simple, burdened with the maintenance of two reservoirs on the Duncan Road in Bombay. Under section 64 of Act V. of 1878, the Abkari rights of the estate were, in 1879, bought by Government for a sum of £5500 (Rs. 55,000). In consequence of family disputes the estate is now managed by an official assignee.

About the time he bought the estate, Mr. Framji Kavasji was vice-president of the Agricultural and Horticultural Society of Western India. He took great interest in agriculture, and introduced many exotics and made many experiments on his estate. In 1830 he began, to grow indigo and the mulberry bush, and his improvements so pleased Sir John Malcolm, that, on his visit to the estate in December 1830, he presented Mr. Framji with a gold watch. In January 1831 Mr. Framji showed the Agricultural and Horticultural Society samples of silk, and gained a prize of £3 (Rs. 30) for Aurangabad oranges and Neilgherry potatoes grown at Povai. In May 1831 he gained a prize of £13 (Rs. 130) for three kinds of silk, Neilgherry potatoes, Bengal rice, Surat rice, sugar, opium, and phalsa Grewia asiatica. In November 1831, the Earl of Clare visited the estate, and showed his approval of the improvements and experiments by presenting Mr. Framji with a pair of shawls worth £140 (Rs. 1400). In January 1832 a sample of loaf-sugar, made from sugarcane grown at Povai, was exhibited and gained a prize of £5 (Rs. 50). Two other prizes were given for ginger, Chinese turmeric, Malacca yams, Mazgaon mangoes, Karwar groundnuts, opium, and pine-apples. In 1833 Mauritius sugarcane was successfully grown and fetched £2 14s. (Rs. 27) the thousand in the Bombay market. In January 1834 Mr. Framji told the Society that 56,000 of his sugarcane would be ready by the end of the year, and asked them to request Government to buy the crop at £2 10s. (Rs. 25) the thousand. Government agreed to take 200,000 canes, and this was supplied from the outturn of ten bighas of land tilled on the Jamaica or West Indies system. In January 1835 Mr. Framji gained a prize of £5 (Rs. 50) for coffee, Chinese lemons, apples, white pumpkins and Malacca yams, and, in May 1835, a prize of £3 10s. (Rs. 35) for silk. In May 1839, some samples of cotton grown at Povai were highly praised by the society. The experiments ceased and the estate fell into disorder on Mr. Framji’s death in 1851. [Mr. B. B. Patel in Dnyan Vardhak,IX. 340-343.]

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