Will Delhi’s odd-even rule to control air pollution work?

A clear verdict on social media and some good suggestions


Photo: Bloomberg
Photo: Bloomberg

The Delhi government’s proposal to bar private vehicles with registration numbers ending in odd and even numbers on alternate days from 1 January is being actively discussed at water coolers, in living rooms and on television.

The social media too is abuzz with people weighing in on the pros and cons of the outcome, with #OddEvenLogic, #DelhiOddEvenLogic and #OddEvenFormula being popular trends on Twitter.

Verdict of Delhi netizens

NetImpact Solutions analysed over 100,000 relevant comments on the topic between 1 and 7 December. The verdict of Delhi netizens is in favour of the odd-even rule, with 34% supporting it, 21% opposing it and 45% in the neutral category, who had shared relevant news articles but had not taken a stand on the rule but were clearly engaged by the topic.

The supporters

The comments from the supporters of the initiative cited the potential health risks of breathing poisonous air, especially for children, as the main reason.

Some backed the odd-even rule “as something is better than nothing”, challenging the opponents to suggest any other ideas.

“Overall, the sentiment and social comments indicates a clear support for the initiative, which will lead to a common good. The critics centre around the likely inconvenience and the need to make the effort more holistic,” according to Rahul Saighal, managing director, NetImpact Solutions, a digital marketing consultancy. He adds that “sustained, holistic and detailed education and communication about the issues with the people will help in greater confidence and understanding”.

The critics

Those who were not in favour questioned its logic on grounds that this could induce Delhiites to buy even more cars and worsen the problem. Some people worried about lack of public transport,women’s safety, higher cab fares and inconvenience in general. Writer Chetan Bhagat’s tweet criticizing the rule as a setback to growth and productivity did not get much support.

On a lighter note

The rule tickled Delhi’s funny bone as jokes based on the odd-even logic were also shared. One popular one-liner was: “Matrimonial ad...wanted suitable girl. Religion no bar...must own car with even number registration.” Photos of number plates which could be altered to odd and even numbers were also shared.

Useful suggestions

People on both sides of the debate, however, did make some valuable suggestions.

Some highlighted the need for more awareness and sacrifice by citizens for the common good. Car pooling was also suggested as a way. Also voiced strongly online was the urgent need to remedy Delhi’s overburdened public transport system and to tackle the menace of trucks, commercial vehicles and burning of garbage.

No matter which side they decided to take, the announcement of the rule stirred Delhi’s netizens to examine the situation closely and certainly succeeded in driving awareness of the severity of the problem.

Methodology

The number of conversations has been arrived at with the following methodology:

(1) Time frame taken: 1-7 December 2015 (one week)

(2) Conversations are defined as tweets, mentions, comments, retweets and shares.

(3) Conversations measured are those which could be captured by various tools and packages. These are not exhaustive but strongly directional given the numbers captured.

(4) These conversations are the ones that had a mention directly or indirectly to the odd-even vehicles rule proposed by Delhi government in the context of excessive pollution in Delhi.

NetImpact Solutions is a digital marketing agency and consultancy founded in February 2014. For more details, visit www.netimpactlimited.com

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