Punjab-Okara

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Introduction

Okara district is located between 30° 18Ꞌ to 31° 08Ꞌ north latitudes, and 73° 14Ꞌ to 74° 09Ꞌ east longitudes. The district is bounded on the east by Kasur district, and on the west by Sahiwal and Pakpattan districts. These two districts are separated from Okara by the River Ravi, which forms a natural boundary for the whole length (about 40 km) of Okara district. On the south of Okara is Bahawalnagar district, and the Indian border lies on the southeastern side of the district.

District at a Glance

Name of District Okara District
District Headquarter Okara City
Population[1] 3,039,139 persons
Area[2] 4,377 km2
Population Density[3] 668.4 persons/ km2
Population Growth Rate[4] 1.6%
Male Population[5] 51.5%
Female Population[6] 48.5%
Urban Population[7] 27.4%
Tehsils 03 Tehsils:

1.    Okara Tehsil

2.    Depalpur Tehsil

3.    Renala Khurd Tehsil

Main Towns Depalpur, Okara, Renala Khurd, Akhtarabad, Gogera, Jaboka Karmanwala, Mandi Ahmadabad, Satghara, Shergarh, Rajowal, Chuchaq, Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka (Thatta Kedona), Basirpur, Haveli Lakha, Kot Gujjaran, Hujra Shah Muqeem, and Lasharian
Literacy Rate[8] 55%
Male Literacy Rate[9] 63%
Female Literacy Rate[10] 47%
Major Economic Activity[11] Agriculture with its Allied Livestock Breeding, & Fishing 34%
Manufacturing 3.7%
Construction 36.3%
Wholesale/ Retail Trade, Hotel/Restaurant 6.3%
Transport, Storage & Communication 2.1%
Community, Social & Personal Services 15.2%
Others 2.4%
Main Crops Wheat, cotton, maize, rice, sugarcane, bajra, maash, moong, masoor, jowar, rapeseed, mustard, barley, gram, groundnut, sesanum, sugarbeet, guarseed, linseed, sunflower, and sunn hemp
Major Fruits Citrus, bananas, mangoes, guavas, pomegranates, jaamun, and phalsa
Major Vegetables Chilies, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, coriander, turmeric, garlic, peas, turnip, cauliflower, carrots, okra, cabbage, spinach, radish, cucumber, and mint
Forests (area)[12] 3,000 HA[13]
Total Black Topped Roads[14] 2,584.3 km
National Highways[15] 46 km
Motorways[16] – km
Provincial Roads[17] 2,351.8 km
Sugar Cess Roads[18] 186.5 km
No. of Grid Stations[19] 09 grid stations, ranging in capacity from 66 KV to 132 KV
No. of Telephone Exchanges[20] 30 telephone exchanges, ranging in capacity from 50 lines to 49,155 lines
Industrial Estates[21] There is no Industrial Estate in the district, but there are 395 small, medium, and large enterprises
Major Industry[22] Cold Storage/Ice Factories 104 Units
Cotton Ginning & Pressing 27 Units
Agricultural Implements 61 Units
Rice Mills 97 Units
Surgical Cotton/Bandages 28 Units
Household Size[23] 6.6 persons per house
Houses with Piped Water Inside[24] 14.6%
Houses with Electricity[25] 69.4%

Table 1.1 Okara District at a Glance

[1] 2017 Census

[2] 1998 Census

[3] 2017 Census

[4] 2017 Census

[5] 2017 Census

[6] 2017 Census

[7] 2017 Census

[8] Pakistan Social & Living Measurement survey 2014-15 (PSLM); Latest available

[9] PSLM

[10] PSLM

[11] 1998 Census; 2017 Census data has not been made public yet.

[12] Punjab Development Statistics 2018-19

[13] Land Utilization Statistics report 2,000 HA under Forests.

[14] Punjab Development Statistics 2018-19

[15] Punjab Development Statistics 2018-19

[16] Punjab Development Statistics 2018-19

[17] Punjab Development Statistics 2018-19

[18] Punjab Development Statistics 2018-19

[19] Directorate of Industries, Punjab. Pre-Investment Study 2012; Okara District; Latest available.

[20] Directorate of Industries, Punjab. Pre-Investment Study 2012. Okara District; Latest available.

[21] Directorate of Industries, Punjab. Pre-Investment Study 2012. Okara District; Latest available.

[22] Directorate of Industries, Punjab. Pre-Investment Study 2012. Okara District; this table lists only some of the major industrial units. For details, please refer to the section on Industries

[23] 1998 Census; 2017 Census data has not been made public yet.

[24] 1998 Census; 2017 Census data has not been made public yet.

[25] 1998 Census; 2017 Census data has not been made public yet.

Brief History

During the British Raj, Okara district formed a part of the Montgomery district,[1] first as a small town and later as a tehsil. Till 1918, Okara was a town, a part of the then Gogera (Gugera) tehsil of Montgomery district. This town began to develop and expand after the construction of both the Lower Bari Doab Canal (in 1913) and the Pakpattan Canal (in 1925). In 1918, another tehsil (Okara) was created within Montgomery district, with Okara city as its headquarters. It remained a part of Montgomery district (now Sahiwal district) till 1982. In 1982, Depalpur, Renala Khurd (called Shergarh at the time), and Okara tehsils were formed into one district named Okara.

Okara city has been named after a tree called Okaan (tamarisk) which is found in abundance in the area. At first the area was called Okaanwali which transformed into Okara over time.

The early history of the district has been recounted in the chapter on Sahiwal district; here, the history of two of its tehsils is being recounted.

Brief History of Satghara  Town, Okara Tehsil

The town of Satghara located in Okara tehsil is historically home to an ancient civilization; some coins discovered in the region show that it was inhabited at the time of the Kushan Dynasty.[2] This town also contains the grave of Mir Chakar Khan Rind, the Baloch folk hero.

There are two theories as to the origins of the name of the town Satghara (which means seven houses/ghar, or seven pitchers/ghara). It is believed that the village was named Satghara because it was destroyed by floods and then rebuilt seven times.  The second account states that some injured soldiers of Alexander the Great (belonging to the ancient town of Stageira of Macedonia) resided in the region and named this town/ village Stageira, now corrupted as Satghara.

The earliest recorded history of Satghara is linked to the history of Mir Chakar Khan Rind, the Baloch war lord, recounted in brief here.

Born in 1468, Mir Chakar Khan Rind lived in Sevi (modern Sibi) in the hills of Balochistan and became the head of the Rind tribe at the age of 18 after the death of his father, Shiahak Khan Rind. The Rinds, under the leadership of Mir Chakar Khan Rind, and the Lasharis[3] led by Mir Gwahram Lashari, had a minor dispute over horse racing, which evolved into a 30 year war which is the main theme of classical Baloch poetry. During this war, both sides made allies with other nations; the Rinds sought help from the Timurids of Herat (the Timurid dynasty was founded by Timur or Tamerlane) and the Lasharis got help from the Sammas of Sindh. Both these allies pressured the Rinds and Lasharis to end the war, so they finally disengaged in 1518. The Lasharis moved towards Thatta and the Rinds towards Multan. Before arriving in Multan, however, Mir Chakar Khan Rind decided to settle near Satghara, choosing the village as his capital city. Here, he constructed a fortification wall around the village with burj (watchtowers) encircling the fort for early warning against impending dangers.

Under the command of his son, Mir Shahdad Khan, the Baloch forces joined the Mughal army of Emperor Humayun who had returned to the region in 1555 after a long exile in Persia. Emperor Humayun recaptured Delhi, and ousted the Suri dynasty in 1556. He then conferred a vast Jagir (estate), including horses and slaves, to Mir Chakar Khan Rind. After ruling the area for more than a decade, Mir Chakar Khan Rind died in 1565 and was buried in Satghara.

The area was occupied by the Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh after the decline of the Mughal Empire. The tomb of Mir Chakar Khan Rind was desecrated and its roof demolished by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, on his way to Multan. In 1849, the area was annexed by the British after the Second Anglo Sikh War.

Brief History of Depalpur Tehsil

Depalpur tehsil of Okara district is situated 25 km from the district capital (Okara) on the bank of the River Beas in the Bari Doab[4] area. The headquarters of the tehsil¾Depalpur town¾has a long and ancient history. The fortified town of Depalpur, in fact, is situated on an old Kushan Site. Coins from the Indo-Scythian era have also been discovered at this site, a discovery that suggests that the region was inhabited as far back as 100 BC. After Multan, this city is probably the oldest city in the Subcontinent. General Cunningham[5] believed that the mound on which Depalpur stands may be identified with the Diadala of Ptolemy.[6] According to Shri Avinash Chandra Das (1882-1962; an Indian Historian),[7] Depalpur was a habitat of the Aryans soon after they entered India around 2,000 BC. However, no recorded history of the region, from the time of Alexander to the time of Mahmud Ghaznavi, exists.

Depalpur is located on the route that leads from Khyber to Delhi and as such, was considered to be one of the lines of defense for Delhi. During the Mughal reign, Depalpur Sarkar (the city) had 29 Mahals.[8]

According to local traditions, Depalpur was named after Raja Dipa Chand, a one-time ruler of the area.

The Imperial Gazetteer of India shows that:

As a fief of Sher Khan[9] (c.1250) it became, with Lahore and Samana, one of the frontier fortresses which defended the Delhi kingdoms against Mongol inroads in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In 1285, Muhammad, son of emperor Balban met his death in a battle with the Mongols near Dipalpur and the poet Amir Khusru was taken prisoner. Under Ala-ud-din it was the headquarters of Ghazi Malik, afterwards the Sultan Tughlak Shah, and from it he repelled the Mongol raids.  Firoz Shah Tughlak visited the town in the fourteenth century and built a large mosque outside the walls, besides bringing a canal from the Sutlej to irrigate the surrounding lands. Near it a Mongol force was defeated in 1358; but though it submitted to Timur (1398) and received a Mongol governor, the people attacked him suddenly, massacred the garrison, and fled to Bhatner. Jasrath, the Khokhar, besieged Dipalpur in 1423 and Shaikh Ali, the Mongol leader, tried to take it in 1431; but the Malik-ush-Shark, Imad-ul-Mulk, threw troops into the fortress and the Mongols were forced to retreat. In 1524 it was stormed by Babar, and under Akbar it became the head-quarters of one of the sarkars [revenue districts] of the province of Multan. It was still a centre of administration under Aurangzeb. The Marathas seized it in 1758, but abandoned it shortly afterwards. A family of Afghan freebooters held it for three generations, until in 1807 the last of them was expelled by Ranjit Singh. (v. 11, p. 359)

 

At the time of the annexation of Punjab by the British in 1849, a district was formed with its headquarters at Pakpattan. This included as much of the territory of the Montgomery district (Sahiwal district) as was part of the Bari Doab. In 1852 some more portions were added and the headquarters was moved to Gogera. In 1865, when the railway was opened, a small town called Montgomery was made the district headquarters and the district was renamed Montgomery.

Okara city itself was established in the 19th century and was a small town in Gogera tehsil at the time of the British annexation of Punjab in 1849. The current city was developed during the British Raj in 6 blocks, with all the houses in each block designed with the same shape and size. This area remained a part of the Montgomery district. It became a tehsil headquarter of Okara tehsil in 1918 but remained a part of Montgomery district even after Independence, till 1982. Montgomery district was named Sahiwal district in 1967.

During the 1857 War of Independence, Gogera tehsil was the scene of an uprising against the British. In 1858 Rae Ahmed Nawaz Khan Kharal, head of the Kharal tribe, led an insurrection against the British in the Neeli Bar area,[10] between the Sutlej, Ravi and Chenab rivers. The rebels held the jungles of Gogera and had some initial successes against the British forces, besieging Major Crawford Chamberlain at Chichawatni. A squadron of Punjabi cavalry sent by Sir John Lawrence raised the siege. Ahmed Khan was killed, but the insurgents found a new leader in Mahr Bahawal Fatyana, who maintained the uprising for an additional 3 months until British forces penetrated the jungle and scattered the rebel tribesmen.

Present-day Okara district lies on the Radcliffe Line[11] and hence, is militarily very important for Pakistan’s defense.

Governmental Structure

At the Federal level, Okara district is allocated a set number of representatives in both the National Assembly and the Provincial Assembly:

  • Number of seats in the National Assembly 5
  • Number of seats in the Provincial Assembly 8

Under the Local Government and Community Development Okara district has 1 District Council and 7 Municipal Committees as follows:

  • Okara
  • Depalpur
  • Renala Khurd
  • Basirpur
  • Hujra Shah Muqeem
  • Haveli Lakha
  • Mandi Ahmadabad

Administrative Divisions

Okara district covers an area of 4,377 km² and is subdivided into 3 tehsils as follows:

Depalpur Tehsil 55 Union Councils
Okara Tehsil 41 Union Councils
Renala Khurd Tehsil 18 Union Councils

Table 1.2 Okara Administrative Divisions

[1] Now Sahiwal district, Montgomery district also included what is now Pakpattan district as one of its tehsils

[2] Montgomery District – Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 17, p. 411

[3] The Lashari tribe inhabited the Kech-Gandahwa area of Balochistan; the Kech-Gandahwa is a low lying flat area separating the Bugti Hills from Kalat

[4] Bari Doab is the area between River Ravi and River Beas.

[5] Sir Alexander Cunningham was a British army engineer, interested in the region’s history. He was appointed Archaeological Surveyor to the Government of India in 1861.

[6] Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 11, p. 359.

[7] 1998 Census

[8] Mahal means revenue estate

[9] Sher Khan was Sher Shah Suri’s title given to him by Bahar Khan, the Mughal Governor of Bihar

[10] Neeli Bar area includes Sahiwal, Okara, and Pakpattan

[11] Radcliffe Line or Border was published on 17 August 1947 as a boundary demarcation line between India and Pakistan upon the Partition of India. It was named after its architect, Sir Cyril Radcliffe

Historic Places and Tourist Attractions

Following are important historical buildings/ sites of the district as well as notable tourist attractions:

  • Tomb of Hazrat Ghous Muhammad Bala Pir at Satghara (protected under Government of Pakistan Laws): Hazrat Ghous Muhammad was a contemporary of Hazrat Bahawal Sher Qalandar of Hujra. His tomb was built by the Deputy Commissioner of Montgomery (now Sahiwal). An urs is held every year at the tomb
  • Mound near Depalpur Town: This mound is connected to the town by a bridge with three arches. The original town was built within four walls with 4 gates facing north, south, east, and west. This wall is still evident in specific patches and some towers are also standing. It is known to have buildings like the temple of Lalu-Jas Rai and an old mosque as well as the tomb of Imam Shah. The ruins of these buildings are still present
  • Feroze Shah Tughlaq Palace in Depalpur: This palace is called Naughara. It is occupied by the family of Sayyid Zia-ud Din from Kapurthala
  • Badshahi Mosque: Built by Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khana during Mughal Emperor Akbar’s rule, the mosque was turned into a stable during Sikh Rule. A sufi saint, Hazrat Imam Shah Bukhari, got it vacated, and converted it back into a mosque. His tomb is also within the mosque premises and a copy of the Holy Quran written out by him is placed with the Gilani family of Depalpur
  • Hujra Shah Muqeem: This is a town in Depalpur. It is believed that a number of Muslim saints came and preached in this area. One of those priests was Bahawal Sher Qalander (whose original name was Bahauddin Gilani); he died in 1565 AD. Others include Hazrat Sayed Shah Noor Muhammad, Hazrat Shah Abu Al Ma Ali, Hazrat Shah Muhammad Muqeem, Hazrat Saeen Faqir, and Shams Ali Qalander (who is known as asufi saint and Qalandar belonging to the Silsilah Uwaisi, Noshahi Qadiriyya). Qalandar’s darbar is located in Shamsabad, on the Hujra-Dhuliana Road, in Hujra Shah Muqeem. This is where his annual urs is celebrated
  • Muaza Akbar Mound: Locals believe that the village was named after Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great who visited this location. The tomb of his spiritual leader Sayed Ghulam Murtaza Shah is located close to Gogera Sahiwal Road
  • Tomb of Hazrat Karmanwala or Syed Ismael Ali Shah Bukhari called Ghous-e-Zaman Hazrat Sahib Pak Karmanwaleh
  • Thatta Kedona or Thatta Ghulamka Dheroka: The village has become famous for dolls and toys made by village residents. Volunteers from a German NGO, DGFK have been working in this village since 1992 to help the local economy. In fact, a large number of foreigners interested in rural culture, social work, and poverty alleviation, as well as experts in different fields of anthropology come to this village regularly
  • Gogera Fort: The fort is notable for its round towers. There are a few rooms and an old Bakhshis Khana inside the fort. The historical origins of the fort (who built it and when) are not known. According to legend, it was built before the Mughal era. UNESCO experts associated with the Lahore Fort assert that “the Fort is at least 400 years old.” It has been accepted that it was most likely built by one of the chieftains in the area as a private safe house. The British used the fort as a treasury and to keep prisoners before and after their court appearances
  • Kharal Lake
  • Depalpur Plantation
  • Sulemanki Wildlife Park (established 1994-98)

Figure 1.6 Hujra Shah Muqeem, Depalpur

Figure 1.7 A Jamia Mosque in Okara

Figure 1.8 Dolls of Thatta Kedona

Topography

Okara forms a rough parallelogram, in a general northeast to southwest direction, between the River Ravi and River Sutlej. It is approximately 96 km (60 miles) in length from northeast to southwest and 72 km (45 miles) in breadth from northwest to southeast (or Ravi to Sutlej). General topography of the district is that of an undulating flat plain.

Almost the entire district is in the area known as the Bari Doab (the area between River Ravi and River Beas).

A high ridge runs from the northeast to the southwest covering the entire length of the district. This ridge is often called the Dhaya and marks the old riverbed of the Beas. The slope is gradual and, imperceptible in places, especially on the northern or Ravi side. The slope on the southern side (Sutlej side) is more pronounced. Towards the Lahore border, the slope becomes very abrupt and is cut into a deep chasm, with river water running down into the valley beneath. The average width of this ridge is 16 km.

The area to the west of the ridge, near Okara and Renala Khurd, the subsoil water is brackish, and therefore the area is dependent on canals for irrigation. However, east of the ridge, near Depalpur tehsil, the subsoil water is sweet and suitable for agriculture.

Rivers, Streams, and Lakes

The two rivers of the district are the River Ravi, flowing along the northern boundary, and the River Sutlej which flows along the southern boundary. In Depalpur tehsil, the River Sutlej is known as Nili  (also spelled Neeli; means blue) because of its color. There were a number of nullahs (streams) flowing in the district, but these have disappeared over time. The only remaining nullahs of the district are the Sukh or Khusk Beas, Khanwah Sohag, Para, Khad, Bisharat, and Ding.

Due to waterlogging, some parts of Renala Khurd tehsil are no longer fit for cultivation. Kharal Lake is the only lake in the district, where sometimes, wintering birds can be observed.

Forests

The district is mostly devoid of any natural forests mainly due to vast agricultural activities. Until a few decades ago, Ravi River was well known for riverine forests, known as Bela forests, which have now almost become extinct due to lack of water. The only reserved forest of the district is Pipli Pahar Irrigated Plantations measuring 7,275 acres. However, according to a 1927 provincial notification, the trees along canals, provincial highways and rural roads are the responsibility of the Forest Department, and are categorized under Reserved Forests.

The main vegetation of these irrigated plantations consist of ukan/ tamarisk (Tamarix orientalis), kikar (Acacia Arabica), ber (Zizyphus spp.), vann or jal (Salvadora oleoides), karir (Capparis aphylla), and Siriala (Hetropogon contortus).

The following table shows the kind and area of forests in the district (Punjab Development Statistics 2018-19):

Total Forest Area 6,870 A Forests under Provincial Govt. – HA
District Govt. – HA Reserved Forests 6,870 HA
Linear Plantation 1,134 km Resumed Lands – HA

Table 1.3 Okara Forests

Soils

The soil of the district is generally of good quality and consists of clay, loam, and sand. Loam is a mixture of clay and sand. Saline tracts are rare, and not very large; water is generally sweet, and near the surface.

Climate

The climate if the district varies from hot to very hot in summer and cold in winter. Spring months are pleasant. The summer season starts in April and continues till September. June is the hottest month. Mean maximum and minimum temperatures during summer are 40 °C and 27 °C respectively. Dust storms occur occasionally during the start of the summer season. The winter season starts from November and lasts till February. January is the coldest month with the mean maximum and minimum temperatures recorded as 20 °C and 6 °C respectively.

There is light rain during the winter season, especially during the months of January and February. These are succeeded by a pleasant spring season. Monsoon months are July and August with maximum rainfalls during these months. The average annual rainfall in the district is 650 mm.

Seismic Activity

The district belongs to Zone 2A of the Seismic Zone Map of Pakistan which means the district will suffer minor or no damage to property due to earthquakes.

Population

The following table shows the population of the district and its tehsils as per the 2017 Census:

District/Tehsil Area

km2

Population Male% Female% Urban

%

Growth Rate %
Okara District 4,377 3,039,139 51.5 84.5 27.4 1.63
Depalpur Tehsil 2,502 1,205,655
Okara Tehsil 1,241 1,374,912
Renala Khurd Tehsil 634 458,572

Table 1.4 Okara Population Statistics

Religions[1]

Muslims 98%
Christians 1.9%
Hindus Negligible %
Ahmadis 0.1%
Scheduled Castes Negligible %
Others Negligible %

Table 1.5 Okara Religious Distribution

Languages[2]

Urdu 3.5%
Punjabi 95.7%
Sindhi 0.1%
Pushto 0.3%
Balochi 0.1%
Seraiki 0.1%
Others 0.2%

Table 1.6 Okara Languages

[1] 1998 Census; 2017 Census data has not been made public yet.

[2] 1998 Census; 2017 Census data has not been made public yet.

Economic ActivityEconomic Infrastructure

Economic Activity

The economy of the district is essentially agrarian. The major employers[1] of the district are:

  • Agriculture with its Allied Livestock Breeding, Fishing (34%)
  • Manufacturing (3.7%)
  • Construction (36.3%)
  • Wholesale/ Retail Trade, Hotel/ Restaurant (6.3%)
  • Transport, Storage & Communication (2.1%)
  • Community, Social & Personal Services (15.2%)
  • Others (2.4%)

[1] 1998 Census; 2017 Census data has not been made public yet.

Land Use

The following table shows the main land use statistics of the district as per Punjab Development Statistics 2018-19:

Total Area 437,700 HA Reported Area 440,000 HA
Total Cultivated Area 342,000 HA Net Sown 320,000 HA
Current Fallow 22,000 HA Total Uncultivated Area 98,000 HA
Culturable Waste 40,000 HA Forest Area 2,000 HA

Table 1.7 Okara Land Use Statistics

Agriculture

Okara district is famous for its fertile lands, peaceful natural environment, and green fields, planted mainly with potato, tomato, sugarcane, wheat, rice, and maize crops. Orange and mango orchards are also famous. Okara district is famous for its lemon, guava, and grapefruit orchards belonging to the food processing company, Mitchell’s Fruit Farms Limited. The orchards run for about 6 miles, along the Lower Bari Doab Canal (LBDC), from Renala Khurd to the Okara bypass.

The district belongs to the Northern Irrigated Plains Agro-Ecological Zone of Pakistan. The crops of the district include wheat, cotton, maize, rice, sugarcane, bajra, maash, moong, masoor, jowar, rapeseed, mustard, barley, gram, groundnut, sesanum, sugarbeet, guarseed, linseed, sunflower, and sunn hemp.

The fruits grown in the district include citrus, bananas, mangoes, guavas, pomegranates, jaamun, and phalsa.

The vegetables of the district include chilies, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, coriander, turmeric, garlic, peas, turnip, cauliflower, carrots, okra, cabbage, spinach, radish, cucumber, and mint.

Figure 1.3 Yam Crop, Okara

Figure 1.4 Sesanum Crop

Livestock Breeding

Livestock breeding is the second most important economic activity of the district. The following table shows the livestock population as of the 2010 Livestock Census (included in Punjab Development Statistics 2018-19):

Cattle 304,000 Heads Buffaloes 942,000 Heads Sheep 134,000 Heads
Goats 293,000 Heads Camels 95 Heads Horses 4,251 Heads
Mules 2,386 Heads Asses 70,536 Heads

Table 1.8 Okara Livestock Statistics

Sahiwal cow, nili ravi cow, awasi sheep, beetal goat, beetal spotted goats, and thoroughbred horses are the indigenous breeds of the district.

Figure 1.5 Sahiwal Cow

Poultry

According to Table 17 (Number of Commercial Poultry Farms and Number of Birds by Size of Flock) there are 290 poultry farms in total in the district. In addition there are a number of privately owned poultry farms in the District as follows[1]:

  • 321 broiler
  • 27 layer
  • 13 poultry breeding farms.

Fishing

Fishing is carried out in River Sutlej, Pond Area Sulemanki Headworks, River Ravi, LBDC, Sem Nullah, Kamma Islampura, Pakpattan Canal, Khush Beas River/ Nullah, Forwah Canal, Siddiquia Canal, Balloki-Sulemanki Link Canal, Khanwah Canal, Lower Sohag Canal, and Gogera Branch Canal.[2]

Bee Keeping

In Pakistan, honey bee colonies were introduced in the 1980s. Since then, more than 300,000 honey bee colonies have been established in Pakistan, some of which are located in Okara district as well.

[1] Punjab Development Statistics 2018-19

[2] Fish Manual. Fisheries Department, Punjab

Irrigation

The Depalpur Canal, off-taking from River Sutlej, was the main canal irrigating Depalpur tehsil, under the Indus Water Treaty, till the waters of River Sutlej were awarded to India and Depalpur Canal was closed at the head. It was later shifted to the Bombawali-Ravi-Bedian (BRB) Link canal. This canal is still the main canal irrigating the district.

The main canal irrigating the farmland of Renala Khurd Tehsil is the Lower Bari Doab Canal (LBDC) originating from Balloki Headworks. The Balloki-Sulemanki Link Canal off-taking from the left bank of Balloki Headworks feeds River Sutlej in order to irrigate the areas which were previously dependent upon River Sutlej[1] for irrigation.

Other smaller canals/ water courses irrigating the district include Gashkori Minor, Gogera Distributary, and Akbar Minor.

The following table shows the irrigation statistics as per Punjab Development Statistics 2018-19:

Total Area Sown 636,000 HA Irrigated Area 636,000 HA
Un-Irrigated Area – HA Canal Irrigated 49,000 HA
Dug Wells 3,000 HA Tube Well Irrigated 45,000 HA
Canal Well Irrigated 4,000 HA Canal Tube Wells 335,000 HA
Others – HA

Table 1.11 Okara Irrigation Statistics

[1] The waters of River Sutlej were awarded to India as per the Indus Water Treaty of 1960, creating a need on the Pakistan side for irrigation canals.

Minerals and Mining

At present, no minerals are being mined in the district. Licenses have been granted to explore oil and gas in the District.

Industry

At present, there is no Industrial Estate in the district. There are 395 small, medium, and large industrial units[1] operating in the district. Industry-wise number of units in the district is as follows:

Type of Industry Number of Units Type of Industry Number of Units
Agricultural Implements 61 Cold Storage 104
AC/ Refrigerator/ Deep Freezer 01 Confectionary 01
Cotton Ginning & Pressing 27 Flour Mills 11
Cotton Waste 05 Dairy Products 01
Food Products 01 Foundry Products 16
Packaging 01 Paper & Paper Board 01
Poultry Feed 03 Seed Processing 01
Sewing Machine Parts 03 Rice Mills 97
Rice Processing 02 Unani Medicines 03
Soaps & Detergents 13 Sugar 02
Surgical Cotton/ Bandages 28 Textile Composite 01
Textile Spinning 03 Vegetable Ghee/oil 02
Textile Weaving 06

Table 1.9 Okara Industries

Trade

The district trades in agricultural produce and industrial goods made in the district.

Handicrafts

The handicrafts of the district include wooden charpai (a string cot) and baan (a coarse rope). Okara city is well known for its craft of lacquered wooden legs (for beds and other furnishings). Embroidery on cloth and leather is also important.

[1] Directorate of Industry—Punjab, Pre-investment Study, Okara District 2009; Latest available.

Economic Infrastructure

The district is linked with Lahore, Kasur, Sahiwal, Pakpattan, Sheikhupura, and Faisalabad districts through black topped road. The district is also linked with Lahore and Sahiwal districts through the Pakistan Railway network.

Roads

The following table shows the type of road and its length in the district as per Punjab Development Statistics 2018-19:

Total Black Topped Roads 2584.3 km
National Highways 46.0 km
Motorways – km
Provincial Highways 2,351.8 km
Sugar Cess Roads 186.5 km

Table 1.10 Okara Road Statistics

Some of the important road links of the district include:

  • National Highway N 5
  • Depalpur-Pakpattan Road
  • Depalpur-Kasur Road
  • Chunian-Haveli Lakha Road
  • Depalpur-Okara-Samundari Road
  • Haveli Lakha-Minchinabad Road

Figure 1.10 Mehboob Alam Roundabout in Okara

Rail and Airways

Renala Khurd, Okara city, and Okara Cantonment are the major Rail heads in the district. In all, there are 06 railway stations in the district.[1]

There is no airport, be it commercial or military, in the district. The closest airport is the Lahore International Airport.

Radio and Television

There are 2 FM radio channels based in Okara district. There is no television station in the district, but TV can be viewed through boosters and cable.

Telecommunications

Pakistan Telecommunications Ltd. has established a network of telephone lines. In all, there are 30 telephone exchanges[2] operating in the district, ranging in capacity from 50 lines to 49,155 lines. In addition, a number of cellular companies also provide their services in the district.

Post Offices/ Courier Services

There are 26 offices[3] of Pakistan Post in the district, with 07 branches in Depalpur tehsil, 16 in Okara tehsil, and 03 in Renala Khurd tehsil.

Banking/ Financial Institutions

There are a total of 77 branches[4] of various banks in the district, with 25 in Depalpur tehsil, 38 in Okara tehsil, and 14 in Renala Khurd tehsil.

According to the List of Reporting Bank Branches 2019 by State Bank of Pakistan, the following banks have their branches in Okara district:

  • Al Baraka Bank Ltd.
  • Allied Bank Ltd.
  • Askari Bank Ltd.
  • Bank Alfalah Ltd.
  • Faysal Bank Ltd.
  • Habib Bank Ltd.
  • J S bank Ltd.
  • Muslim Commercial Bank Ltd.
  • National Bank of Pakistan Ltd.
  • Soneri Bank Ltd.
  • The Bank of Punjab Ltd.
  • The Punjab Provincial Co-op Bank Ltd.
  • United Bank Ltd.
  • Zarai Taraqiati Bank Ltd.
  • Bank Al-Habib Ltd.
  • Bank Islami Pakistan Ltd.
  • Dubai Islamic Bank Pakistan Ltd.
  • Habib Metropolitan Bank Ltd.
  • KASB Bank Ltd.
  • Meezan Bank Ltd.
  • National Investment Bank Ltd.
  • Sindh Bank Ltd.
  • Summit Bank Ltd.

In all there are 122 branches of various conventional banks and 22 branches of different Islamic banks in the District.

Electricity and Gas

There are 09 grid stations[5] in the district (ranging in capacity from 66 KV to 132 KV). Natural Gas is also available in the district.

[1] Directorate of Industries, Punjab. Pre-Investment Study, Okara District 2012; Latest available.

[2] Directorate of Industries, Punjab. Pre-Investment Study, Okara District 2012; Latest available.

[3] Directorate of Industries, Punjab. Pre-Investment Study, Okara District 2012; Latest available.

[4] Directorate of Industries, Punjab. Pre-Investment Study, Okara District 2012; Latest available.

[5] Directorate of Industries, Punjab. Pre-Investment Study, Okara District 2012; Latest available.

Education

The following table shows the details of educational facilities of the district as per Punjab Development Statistics 2018-2019:

Institution Boys/Girls Institution Boys/Girls
Primary Schools 542/487 Middle Schools 106/178
Secondary Schools 109/77 Higher Secondary 09/08
Degree Colleges 14/12 Other Higher Secondary[1] 01/-
Other Degree Colleges[2] 12/09 Technical Training Institutes[3] 03/01
Vocational Institutes[4] -/02 Commercial Training Institutes[5] 02/-
Universities[6] 01 Govt. Mosque Schools 51/06
Medical Schools Engineering Schools

Table 1.12 Okara Government Educational Institutions

A Cadet College is located in Okara city.

Health

The District Health Officer (DHO) is overall in charge of health services provided in the district. The DHO is supported by doctors, paramedics, technicians, and other support staff. The following table shows the number of health care institutions in the district as per Punjab Development Statistics 2018-19:

Institution No./Beds Institution No./Beds
Government Hospitals 05/447 Dispensaries 35/-
Rural Health Centers 11/200 Basic Health Units 102/192
T B Clinics 01/- Mother Child Health Centers 11/-
Private Hospitals 01/50 Sub-Health Centers -/-
Private Health Care Providers[7] 17

Table 1.13 Okara Health Institutions

Policing

Deputy Inspector General Police (DIGP) looks after the Sahiwal Region which comprises of Sahiwal district, Okara district, and Pakpattan district. District Police Officer (DPO) Okara district is overall in charge of the police force in Okara district. This DPO is assisted by a varying number of Superintendents and Deputy Superintendents of Police.

The district is subdivided into 4 Circles and 19 police station

[1] Includes Private, Federal and Schools owned by PAF

[2] Includes Private, Federal and Schools owned by PAF

[3] Directorate of Industries, Punjab. Pre-Investment Study, Okara District 2012; Latest available.

[4] Directorate of Industries, Punjab. Pre-Investment Study, Okara District 2012; Latest available.

[5] Directorate of Industries, Punjab. Pre-Investment Study, Okara District 2012; Latest available.

[6] Campus of University of Education

[7] Three Years Rolling Plan 2010-13 Okara District; Latest available.

Environment and Biodiversity

The district is located mainly in a plain area; the average elevation of the district, in fact, is barely 50 m above sea level. The district is located within the Moist Temperate Zone and receives rains during the summer Monsoon season. Some residual precipitation is also received in the winter through the western Mediterranean winds.

The district has a cleaner environment, being relatively free from industries; the major source of air pollution is vehicular transmissions and suspended dust particles.

Flora and Fauna

Flora

The dominant tree species in the region are sheesham (Dilbergia sisoo), kikar (Acacia arabica), peelu or tooth brush tree (Salvadora persica), bohar or banyan (Ficus religiosa), gaz (Tamarix indica), neem (Azadrichta indica), eucalyptus and mesquite (Prosopis juliflora), ber/ mala (Zizyphus numularia), poplar (Populus alba), mulberry or toot (Morus alba), jaamun (Syzygium cumini), rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia), jand (Prosopis spicigera), frash (Tamarix aphylla), khijri (Prosopis cineraria), ber (Zizyphus mauritiana), babul/ prickly acacia (Acacia nilotica), khimp (Crotalaria burhia), kapok bush or booh (Aerva javanica), laani (Suaeda fruticosa, Salsola foetida), goose grass (Eleusine compressa), and ghamur or kallar (Panicum antidotale).

The aquatic vegetation along Kharal Lake and river banks include lyngbye’s sedge (Carex fedia), musk grass (Chara sp), Indian Doab (Cynodon Dactylon), water thyme (Hydrilla verticillata), common rush (Juncus sp), common reed (Phragmites karka), Indian pond weed (Potamogeton spp), wild sugar cane (Saccharum Spp), bulrush (Typha angustata), and horned pond weed (Zannichellia palustris).

Fauna

Because of extensive cultivation, high population, and human activities, there is little wildlife in the district. However, the Wildlife Department has reported some fauna which includes wild boar, hyena, red Indian fox, porcupines, and jackals. Until a few years ago, the wolf was also found in riverine forests, but the species has almost become extinct due to loss of forests.

Commonly found birds of the area are the hawk, kite, partridge, doves, cuckoos, woodpeckers, bulbuls, parakeets, babblers, black drongo, finches, house sparrows, and common crow. A large variety of waterfowl and migratory birds also visit the region because of the canals and wetlands in the area. These include grebes, Eurasian teal, gadwall, pochards, white-headed ducks, purple swamp hen, American flamingo, goose, shelduck, stilts, avocets, and the snowy plover.

Reptilian fauna includes various snakes and lizards.

Protected Areas and Endangered Wildlife

Following are the wildlife protected areas of the district:

  • Pipal Pahar Irrigated Plantation/ Depalpur Irrigated Plantation: This provides sanctuary to pipal and banyan trees and the mammalian fauna of the district
  • Kharal Lake: This is a brackish water lake and is on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. This wetland provides sanctuary to partridges and all migratory birds visiting the lake
  • Part of Border Belt Game Reserve is located in the district.