The history of the Thal Canal 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. It was however repeatedly shelved because of the argument that it would severely hurt the water availability to the lower riparians. The project proposal once again came under discussion in 1975 when the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) refused to endorse the project. Finally, on August 16, 2001, General (Rtd) Pervez Musharraf, as President of Pakistan, inaugurated the 30-billion rupee Greater Thal Canal (GTC) project.
The Thalochi dialect of Punjabi spoken in the district reflects a number of features from its historical and geographical background. The populations of the district are diffused over a large desert expanse, causing people to travel large distances, as well as to migrate to the central regions of Punjab for work. While many communities do speak their peculiar local dialects, the Standard Punjabi language and Urdu are far more easily understood and therefore more frequently in use.