According to an analysis by IndiaSpend, five of India’s most populous states--Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh--which account for 46 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the country, as on June 10, 2020, found that lack of exclusive access to drinking water, distance to the source of water, poor sanitation and handwashing habits are posing a challenge in the fight against the pandemic. Moreover, the demand of more water to fight the pandemic has raised the distress of women and girls who have to collect water from stand posts, where supply hours have been increased for ensuring social distancing. Along with this, in densely populated cities, community toilets and sanitation facilities pose a risk as it makes social distancing and hygiene difficult.
Nearly half (48.3%) of the households (in urban and rural India) do not have exclusive access to drinking water and one-fourth of households access it through a public, unrestricted source
While nearly two in three households in India have a source of drinking water at home or within the premises, the rest (34%) have to travel to access water, some of them more than 1.5 km, according to NSS data. Maharashtra, the state with one-third of all cases in India, reported that 21% of households need to travel outside their homes to a source of water. Bihar was the only state, among the five most populated states, where fewer than 10% of households had to travel to a principal source of water.
Of the five states, more than two in five households (rural and urban) in Madhya Pradesh (44.8%) and West Bengal (46.5%) depended on a public, unrestricted source for drinking water.