(Last Updated on : 30/11/2010)
Superintendent of Ships shall divide his job which includes collection of taxes, verification of toll taxes and keep accounts of the navigation which will include not only the big ships sailing in the deep seas and oceans but also the small boats which move in the small rivers, natural and artificial lakes which fall within the vicinity of the sthaniya and all the fortified areas of a kingdom. As mentioned in Chapter XXVIII of Book II in Arthashastra
, the role of a superintendent of ship shall be divided into collection of taxes, division of the groups of people as to who should pay what amount of taxes as well as provide security to those foreign and native navigators and sailors who are sailing within the boundaries of the kingdom.
Superintendent of Ships shall be responsible in making the division of group of people as those living in the villages on the seashores or on the bank of rivers and lakes shall pay a fixed amount of tax; fisherman shall give one-sixth of the of their haul as fees for fishing licence; merchants shall levy customary toll levied in the port town; and passengers arriving on the board of the kings ship shall pay the requisite amount of sailing fees. Those who make use of king's boats for sailing fishing out conch shells and pearls shall either pay a requisite amount for hiring boats of the king or shall use their own boats.
Superintendent of Ships shall strictly follow all the rules of the commercial towns as well as the orders of the superintendent of towns which include pattana or port town. Regarding the categorisation of levying taxes the superintendent of ships shall make full consideration towards the condition of the ships which are weather beaten and the worse conditions in which they return. Accordingly the vassals carrying merchandise spoiled by water can either get their tolls exempted or reduced to half or let to sail when the time to sail approaches. Ships that touch the boundaries of the harbour may be requested to pay taxes. Also superintendent of ships shall get some share from the superintendent of conch-shells and pearls.
Superintendent of Ships then concentrates on the distribution of ships as well as boats. Small boats shall be launched in those rivers which overflow during the rainy seasons; and the pirate ships or vassals which belong to the enemy country or which violate the customs and rules in force shall be destroyed. Superintendent of ship will then provide proper conditions under which he shall impose punishments.
Superintendent of ships shall be free to levy tax on those carrying loads and minors shall pay one masha; those carrying head loads, loads on the shoulders, those carrying cows, and horses shall pay 2 mashas; while those carrying camels and buffaloes shall pay 4 mashas. If someone carries small carts shall pay 5 mashas, those with cart drawn by bull as will pay 6 mashas and those with big carts shall pay 7 mashas. Those carrying head loads of merchandise shall pay 1/4th of the masha; in big rivers ferry fees are double while the marshy areas shall give to the ferry man as prescribed amount of foodstuff and wages. In boundaries the ferry men shall receive tolls, carriage- cess as well as road cess and can confiscate the property of those who are travelling without a pass. Further superintendent of boats shall recover the losses caused due to the boats carrying heavy loads, sailing in improper time and place, want of ferry men or lack of repair. As mentioned in Arthashastra the boats should be launched at the month of Ashadha leaving first seven days of the month, and kartika and the evidence should be given and the daily income should be remitted.
Thus, Superintendent of Ship, alongwith the assistance of superintendent of boats, shall be solely responsible for the maintenance of ships as well as boats .Boats as well as ships had been one of the major sources of navigation at the time of Maurya Empire
. The ancient civilisations and early empires depended completely on the waterways to extend their trade and commerce with other nations which required latest and most appropriate mode of transport across the water ways which could only be executed with thorough navigation system of ships and roads.