National Current Affairs

India has 27,312 elephants: 2017 Census Estimation

According to the census report, released by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) the population estimation of Asian elephant in India is around 27,312.

The census was conducted between March and May 2017 by the Asian Nature Conservation Foundation (ANCF) at the Indian Institute of Science (Bengaluru), several NGOs and independent conservationists aided the Project Elephant Directorate and forest departments of 23 states. It was first-ever synchronised all-India Elephant Population census that covered 1.10 lakh square kilometres and spanned four regions of the country: the northeast, south, east-central and north.

Key Highlights of the survey

The population estimation of Asian elephants in 2017 census is lower than from the last census estimate in 2012 (between 29,391 and 30,711). Karnataka has the highest number of elephants (6,049), followed by Assam (5,719) and Kerala (3,054).

The estimate was based on preliminary results from the first-ever synchronised all-India Elephant Population Estimation derived from the sighting-based direct count method alone. The final count will be confirmed with estimates from the indirect dung-count method in three months.

According to experts parallels cannot be drawn between 2012 and 2017 census, because in the 2012 census, various states had used different methodologies and it was not synchronised effort across the country. It might have caused errors and duplication that led to overestimation.

Comment

The 2017 census indices indicate that the elephant population is increasing including birth rate and even their geographical range has increased. However, it shows marginal increase in elephant poulation ever since the 1990s. Due to habitat fragmentation, elephants are moving out to agricultural landscapes leading to an increase in man-elephant conflict resulting in both crop damage and loss of lives of elephants.

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Cabinet approves creation non-lapsable Madhyamik and Uchchtar Shiksha Kosh

The Union Cabinet has approved creation of a single corpus fund non-lapsable known as Madhyamik and Uchchtar Shiksha Kosh (MUSK).

Under it, all proceeds of secondary and higher education cess will be credited and utilised for the government’s schemes in education sector.

Madhyamik and Uchchtar Shiksha Kosh (MUSK)

The funds arising from MUSK will be utilised for schemes in education sector, which will be available for benefit of students of secondary and higher education all over the country. It will be administered and maintained by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development.

The MUSK will be maintained as a Reserve Fund in the non-interest bearing section of the Public Accounts of India. It will be operationalised as per the present arrangements under Prarambhik Shiksha Kosh (PSK) wherein the proceeds of cess are used for Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Schemes.

The expenditure on ongoing schemes of the HRD Ministry will be initially incurred from the gross budgetary support (GBS) in any financial year and the expenditure will be financed from MUSK only after the GBS is exhausted.

Background

During the 10th Plan, an education cess of 2% was levied on all central taxes from 2004 to make available additional resources for basic education/elementary education to augment the existing budgetary resources. Later in 2007, additional cess of 1% on central taxes (called Secondary and Higher Education Cess) was levied through Finance Act, 2007 to give fillip for universalizing access to secondary education and expanding the reach of the higher education sector. In February 2016, HRD Ministry had sought the approval of the Department of Economic Affairs for creation of non-lapsable fund in the Public Account called MUSK.

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