Policy Engagements and Blogs

India Speak Episode 8: An Inside View of Delhi Government’s Oxygen Control Room

Yamini Aiyar

July 16, 2021


The second wave of COVID-19 left an already-strained health system crumbling. As one of the initial states hit by the surge of cases, Delhi faced many challenges ensuring adequate oxygen supply to patients. In this episode of India Speak, Yamini Aiyar (President and Chief Executive, CPR) speaks to Shailendra Sharma (Education Advisor, Delhi Government) about his experience of working and supporting the oxygen control room that was set up in response to the crisis by the Delhi Government. Why did the oxygen crisis happen and how was it overcome? What was it like to be a Front Line Worker in this crisis? How did the government react? What were the big challenges during that period?

Sharma discusses what it was like to be in the thick of that control room, confronting a crisis of deep distress but also concerns of managing the health system in the midst of constant SOS messages about lack of basic supplies and most importantly, oxygen. He speaks about the role of the courts in fixing responsibility and bringing in some transparency to the process of allocation. Finally, Sharma elaborates on the logistical and technical complexities in ramping up oxygen supply and its distribution across hospitals.

About the Series

The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic poses serious challenges that need immediate attention. The collapse of an already strained health system, vaccine supply shortage, an unprecedented economic crisis and sharpening inequality, are factors that raise crucial concerns. How must India confront this crisis? The Centre for Policy Research (CPR) brings leading experts to discuss what the country’s response should look like in a new podcast series, India and the Pandemic.

Listen to other episodes in this series: