Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India, New Delhi
Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana,India
 Sponsored by
Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India, New Delhi
Research Content
Impact of NREGA on Wage Rates, Food Security and Rural Urban Migration in Punjab

            The present study made an assessment of NREGA with respect to the extent of employment generation, its effect on rural to urban migration, asset creation, determinants of participation and implementation in Punjab. Apart from the secondary data, primary data were also collected from 300 rural households involved in wage employment and spread over five districts where NREGA was implemented in three different phases. In Punjab, a cumulative number of more than 8 lakh job cards were issued by 2010-11 with the proportion of SC households being more than 76 per cent. Out of these, a total of 2.88 lakh households demanded employment in 2010-11. More than 77 lakh person days of employment were generated through NREGA activities in Punjab with the share of women being 38 per cent. Rural connectivity and renovation of traditional water bodies were two most important activities apportioning almost two-third of the total expenditure. More than 70 per cent of the job card holders had been included in the financial system for processing their NREGA payments either through banks or post office accounts, which is a welcome and commendable step towards financial inclusion of the poor. The primary data from rural households revealed that a participating household got an average of 54.15 days of employment under NREGA, which accounted for about 21 per cent of its total employment opportunities. The family size, asset value, household income other than NREGA and stage of implementation of NREGA in the district, were significant determinants of household level participation in NREGA. At the worker level, though gender and marital status were found significant determinants of participation in NREGA, age and education of the workers were not found significant. The study did not confirm any major impact of NREGA on migration of rural workers in rural areas of Punjab. Only 4.5 per cent of the households reported any migration from the village due to lack of employment opportunities and there was no incidence reported for anyone to come back. While the level of awareness about implementation of NREGA, right to apply for work, work application procedure and level of minimum wages was relatively high, there was quite less awareness on wage calculation method, provision of worksite facilities and right to unemployment allowance. It will perhaps take longer time before any significant impact of NREGA is finally visible on the rural economies. The wages of the casual labor have increased owing to an overall decline in the supply of labour to the agriculture sector. These changes seem to have been the result of significant decline in the in-flow of migrant labour to Punjab from other states (Bihar and Uttar Pradesh) and shortage in the supply of local agricultural labour as well. Keeping in mind the present number of job seekers and their future growth, the employment opportunities under NREGA has to be increased by almost 11 times in Punjab. While the work on major activities such as rural connectivity and traditional water bodies has to be intensified, numerous other activities in the rural areas had to be identified which can increase the demand for wage labour. The problem of spillovers has to be taken care of. Increased employment generation under NREGA will bring significant enhancement in household incomes and consumption and will reduce the income and consumption variability as well as inequality. Increased female participation in rural labour force will also boost the household incomes, bring down gender wage differentials and will improve consumption and food security of the households. Hence, special provisions should be made to further increase the share of females in total employment.