|Tamarix tree of Thal desert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The Thal desert (Urdu, Saraiki: صحراےَ تھل) is situated in Punjab, Pakistan. It is vast area mainly between the Jhelum and Sindh rivers near the Pothohar Plateau. Its total length from north to south is 190 miles, and its maximum breadth is 70 miles (110 km) while minimum breadth is 20 miles. This region is divided into the districts of Bhakkar, Khushab, Mianwali, Jhang, Layyah, and Muzaffargarh. Its part in Jhang is on the left bank of the river Jhelum. Geographically, it resembles the deserts of Cholistan and Thar. Main towns of Thal are Murshid Abad Shareef, Roda Thal, Mankera, Hyderabad Thal, Dullewala, Mehmood Shaheed, Shah Wala, Shahi Shumali, Piplan, Kundian, Kot Aazam, Sarai Muhajir, Jiasal, Rangpur, Adhi Kot, Jandanaala, Mari Shah Sakhira, Noorpur Thal, Kapahi, Goharwala.
The history of Thal Project goes back to over 130 years. It was in 1873 that the project was first conceived for the whole of Thal Doab. The proposal to irrigate this area was repeatedly brought up for discussion in 1919, 1921, 1924, 1925, 1936 and in 1949. But the British colonial masters repeatedly shelved the project on the pretext that it will severely hurt the water availability to lower riparian. The project proposal once again came under discussion in 1975 in a controversial way when Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) refused to endorse the project. Finally, on August 16, 2001, General Pervez Musharraf Retired, then Chief Executive of Pakistan, inaugurated the 30-billion rupee Greater Thal Canal (GTC) project.
Culture and society
The local language of Thal Desert is the Thalochi also known as Thali dialect of Punjabi Language.
Main tribes of people living in this dessert region include the Ghullo, Rajpoot, Panwaar, Saigra, Khokhar, Cheenna(Jutt), Sandhila (jutt), Naich (Jutt), Aheer, Bhachar, Johiya, Mammak, Chhina,[Kulachi Baloch], Baloch, Tiwana, Sial, Baghoor, Awans, Rahdari, Uttra (Jutt), Bhullar, Lashari, Kanyal, Jhammat, Gahi(Malik), mehr, Waghra Aulakh, Majoka, Magsi and Pushia. Before the partition of India in 1947 there was a large Sikh and Hindu Population.