Patna, Oct 2 (IANS) Though most urban and rural areas of Bihar achieved the open defecation free (ODF) status on October 2, its formal announcement was yet to be made, said officials, here on Wednesday.
All urban areas, including 141 urban bodies, had become ODF as per the deadline and was declared ODF after third party inspection, Urban Development Minister Suresh Sharma said.
"All areas under urban local bodies have become ODF, but all of them were not handed over certificates," Sharma said.
Arvind Kumar Choudhary, Principal Secretary of the Rural Development Department, told IANS all criteria for the ODF status had been fulfilled in rural areas. "We have fulfilled the ground for ODF in rural areas. We have ensured that the ODF status is achieved within deadline. It is a big step in positive direction," he said.
Choudhary said after constructing toilets for 1.66 crore rural families, the information that Bihar's rural areas had become ODF was sent to the central government.
According to Choudhary, the government not only built toilets but also stressed behavioural change, a complex phenomenon. After building toilets, their use had to be sustained for at least one year for change in habit, he added.
He said the primary focus was on behavioural change by creating awareness on safe sanitation practices in villages.
Till July, only 5 of the 38 districts of Bihar were declared ODF.