Bhavana pointed at the tiny yellow patterns on a recent map of the Kulathur-Kazhakuttom region, comparing them with a 1989 map of the same, where the yellow was spread wider. Those, she explained, showing the yellow spots on this year's map, are the places where paddy was cultivated till recently. Sadly, the areas are fallow now.

H. Bhavana and her friends — Akila V. Kumar, T. Aiswarya Shyam, Lekshmi Raj, and S.S. Lekshmi — of Carmel Girls Higher secondary school in the city came to this conclusion through a study conducted in Kazhakuttom and Attipra on the impact of developmental activities on the land use pattern. The project was prepared for the National Children's Science Congress project.

“We decided to select this region when we heard our teachers discussing the drastic changes that they had witnessed in the area since it became an IT hub, specifically the disappearance of paddy fields,” said Aiswarya Shyam.

But what started as a curious field trip soon became their field study, which lasted about six months. With the help of officials from the department of survey and their teacher Tissy Mary John, maps showing the pattern of land use in the study area in the years 1989, 2001, and 2011 were prepared. It revealed that the area of paddy cultivation had decreased from 19.14 per cent in 1989 to zero in 2011. The remaining 2.30 per cent of the paddy field were fallow.

One finding led to the other and six field study stations along the Kulathur-Kazhakuttom region were chosen for their project. Physical, chemical, and fertility properties of soil samples, water table of wells and drinking water samples of these regions were tested, with the help of experts from Agricultural College, Vellayani.

According to Aiswarya, the study revealed that most of the land reclaimed for construction was suitable for agriculture. Moreover, soils of the abandoned paddy fields were found to be fertile. The reclamation of the paddy fields had resulted in flooding during rainy season.

Surveys were conducted in 75 houses to study the land use pattern and the environmental problems faced by the people there. “We are not against development, but areas suitable for agriculture should not be acquired for projects,” added Bhavana.

They conducted awareness campaigns for local people .A memorandum was also submitted to the Minister for Agriculture.