Two environmentalists take a walk along a river and find that they should have brought along the policymakers, planners, engineers and politicians claiming to help it.
When heading out on an adventure, it is standard practice to look at satellite imagery of the area to chart an informed plan of action. However, when we were preparing for our walk along the Ken river, we couldn’t access a reliable map of the watercourse all the way from source to mouth.
We tried tracing the river on a map using satellite data for cues, moving upstream from an established point of identity: Chilla ghat, the confluence of the Ken with the Yamuna in Uttar Pradesh. However, this exercise proved difficult and led us astray multiple times, especially in the upper catchment area. It was only later, when walking along the river, did we realise that this was because almost all of Ken’s tributaries have a larger discharge than the Ken itself. Our virtual search for the Ken’s source kept taking us to the source of its tributaries in nearby hills. Thanks to the walk, we now have an actual and detailed map of the river that we intend to share soon.