Inland Customs Line

The Inland Customs Line which incorporated the Great Hedge of India (or Indian Salt Hedge) was a customs barrier built by the British across India primarily to collect the salt tax. The customs line was begun while India was under the control of the East India Company but continued into the period of direct British rule. The line had its beginnings in a series of customs houses that were established in Bengal in 1803 to prevent the smuggling of salt to avoid the tax. These customs houses were eventually formed into a continuous barrier that was brought under the control of the Inland Customs Department in 1843.

The line was gradually expanded as more territory was brought under British control until it covered a distance of more than 2,500 miles (4,000 km), often running alongside rivers and other natural barriers. At its greatest extent it ran from the Punjab in the northwest until it reached the princely state of Orissa, near the Bay of Bengal, in the southeast. The line was initially made of dead, thorny material such as the Indian Plum but eventually evolved into a living hedge that grew up to 12 feet (3.7 m) high and was compared to the Great Wall of China. The Inland Customs Department employed customs officers, Jemadars and men to patrol the line and apprehend smugglers, reaching a peak of more than 14,000 staff in 1872. The line and hedge were considered to be an infringement on the freedom of Indians and in opposition to free trade policies and were eventually abandoned in 1879 when the tax was applied at point of manufacture. The salt tax itself would remain in place until 1946.

Read more about Inland Customs LineOrigins, Inland Customs Line, Great Hedge, Staff, Abandonment, Impact On Smuggling, Legacy, Rediscovery

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Inland Customs Line - Rediscovery
... Despite its scale, the customs line and associated hedge were not widely known in either Britain or India, the standard histories of the period neglecting to mention them ... University of London library, wrote a book on the customs line and his search for its remains that was published in 2001 ... in London before making three trips to India to look for any remains of the line ...

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