As the Land Revenue was a major chunk / source of state revenue in all the ancient agrarian economies, the basic purpose of settlement was assessment of land revenue but in present times, the first and foremost purpose of Settlement operation is to prepare up-to-date Record of Rights of land along with map of each estate as levy of land revenue stands abolished. Although, Todar Mal during the reign of Akbar, the Great, was the first person to evolve the process of measurement of land in India, yet it is Shershah Suri who later on perfected the system to a great extent. The first permanent settlement was conducted by Lord Cornwallis in Bengal in the year 1793 A.D.

The first regular settlement was conducted in the state of Jammu and Kashmir between 1887 to 1905 A.D. It was during the reign of Maharaja Partap Singh that first ever regular settlement ( Bandobast Qanooni ) was started under the superintendence of Mr. Vingate in 1887 in Kashmir Valley and after completing two out of twenty eight paraganas ( namely Lal and Phak ), he left the state and services of a more dynamic and legendary figure Mr. Walter R Lawrence were obtained by the Maharaja in 1889 who carried out the Settlement Operation forward in the whole state. Within four years he completed his job in Kashmir Valley. One of the salient feature of his settlement was that he convinced the Maharaja to confer heritable occupancy rights on Assamies. He also proposed to Maharaja that after every twenty years, the operation should be repeated either partially or in toto depending upon the extent of changes which would have occurred during the period.

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