Charting the changes

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Five friends highlight the extent of damage to soil and water caused by developmental activities.

Alarming changes: Surveying the land. Photo: Special Arrangement
Alarming changes: Surveying the land. Photo: Special Arrangement

Bhavana H. and her friends who made a visit to the bustling area near Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram as part of their field trip had no idea that it would soon become their area of field study and that their study would last for six months.

Field study

Through simple field work, Bhavana and her friends — Akila V. Kumar, T. Aiswarya Shyam, Lekshmi Raj and S.S. Lekshmi of the Carmel Girls Higher Secondary School in the city — had become aware of the negative impact of developmental changes.

These students had conducted a preliminary study on the impact of developmental activities on the land use pattern and environment in select areas of Kazhakootam and Attipra regions for the National Children's Science Congress project.

“We decided to select this region when some of our teachers discussed about the drastic changes that they had witnessed in these regions since it became a IT hub, specifically about the disappearance of paddy fields,” said Aiswarya.

With the help of officials from the department of survey and their teacher Tissy Mary John, maps showing the land use pattern of the study area in 1989, 2001 and 2011 were prepared.

It revealed that the area of paddy cultivation had decreased from 19.14 per cent in 1989 to no paddy cultivation in 2011. The remaining 2.30 per cent of the paddy field was fallow.

One finding led to the other and soon the team set out to conduct various tests to assess the quality of the soil and water in the area.

Shocking findings

According to Bhavana, six field study stations along the Kulathur-Kazhakootam region were chosen for their project study.

Physical, chemical and fertility properties of the soil samples, water table levels of the wells and drinking water samples of these regions were tested assisted by experts from the Agricultural College, Vellayani.

The study revealed that most of the area that was reclaimed for construction activities 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 the rainy season. The poorly maintained pipe culverts in these areas aggravated the situation.

Surveys were conducted in 75 houses to study the land use pattern and the environmental problems faced by them.

“Often people asked how they could stop developmental activities. We are not against development but acquisition of paddy fields and other areas suitable for agriculture should be stopped. Most people have commercial motives and are not fully aware of the environmental problems due to this drastic change in land pattern,” added Bhavana.

These students did not just stop with their field study. They also conducted awareness campaigns for the local people and farmers and a memorandum was submitted to the Minister for Agriculture.



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