India is now the country with the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world as infections continue to accelerate, with more than 90,000 new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 4.2 million.
Victoria Beard is a professor of city and regional planning at Cornell University and a fellow at the World Resources Institute. Beard’s research focuses on how planners need to address urban inequality and poverty, with an emphasis on the Global South. Beard is available for interviews about the long-standing infrastructure problems compounding India’s management of COVID-19.
“The recent rise in coronavirus cases in Indian cities underscores problems that existed before the current health crisis. For example, a lack of access to quality core urban services, especially water and sanitation.
“In many Indian cities, more than 40 percent of residents do not have access to safe, reliable, and affordable water directly to their homes. Where households are not connected, they must either pay exorbitant prices for water or leave their homes, wait in line, and use facilities outside the home. Washing your hands for the recommended 20 seconds and social distancing is much more difficult, if not impossible in these cities.
“Simply put, the time for addressing these issues at the margins is over; meaningful change will require sustained political commitment to make the needed investments in public services.”