Moving Upstream: Ken

The Moving Upstream: Ken project is a collaborative effort between SANDRP and Veditum, part of our Moving Upstream project series. The idea, like our earlier journey along the Ganga, was to walk along the river, interact with the riverine communities and create a documentation of the river ecosystem. The Ken river basin with its geological and hydrological wonders, culture & an increased presence in environmental conversations continues to be of much interest to both organisations.

Considered to be one of India’s cleaner rivers, the Ken is part of the Ganga basin and meets the Yamuna at Chilla Ghat in Banda District, Uttar Pradesh. It originates as a tiny rain fed stream between agricultural fields within the catchment of the North face of the Kaimur Hills in Katni District, Madhya Pradesh. The Ken gains volume as 23 tributaries (often bigger than the Ken itself), empty themselves into the river. This river journey has been one of wonder and sorrow, the reasons for which will become clear as we begin sharing stories.

Starting with a few general emails about working together, we (Himanshu Thakkar and Siddharth Agarwal) ended up doing a quick recce of the lower Ken basin in late May of 2017. The foot journey – yatra, was scheduled to begin on 16th June 2017, and culminate in about a month. However, the difficult terrain of the Ken River and the harsh weather required this journey to be undertaken in multiple parts (June 2017, October 2017 and April 2018).

It required us a total of 33 days to complete this over 600 km journey on foot. The river’s length is about 427 kms and we had to skip the part that is within the Panna Tiger Reserve (we covered a part of it through Safari, Boat and other means), but the walk was longer than that as the terrain at several places did not allow us to walk close to or parallel to the river.

The Ken has also been appearing in the news lately due to a proposed project – the Ken Betwa River Interlinking Project. As hoped, the walk has also helped us uncover facets about this proposed plan and made us understand how the local communities have imagined this project affecting their lives. You can find all our future updates from this project on this page and on SANDRP’s website.

One of the many fabulous horse shoe bends in the Ken, in the upper basin (Madhya Pradesh). Image by Siddharth Agarwal

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