ISLAMABAD - Despite the media reports pointing to an alarming upsurge in the flour smuggling, theres no letup in the illegal trade of the commodity from Punjab to the NWFP, TheNation observed. Reliable sources confided to TheNation that flour bags were being smuggled from different areas of Punjab, especially Rawalpindi, to the NWFP through trucks and tankers. Around 40 to 50 unauthorised trucks, which carry flour bags, cross the Punjab border and enter into the NWFP every day. Further probe into the matter revealed that these flour bags were illegally transported to Basham, Hazara Division and other areas of the NWFP via Barian check-post, which demarcates the NWFP from Punjab. The eatable commodity is transported from Rawalpindi to Murree (Barian), from where the unauthorised tankers cross the check-post in connivance with local police and Food Department. Once the flour clears the aforementioned picket, it is sent to Phowari and then Kohala. It is further transported to Nathiagali and other cities of the NWFP, sources revealed. This inter-provincial trade requires permit letters, issued by the Food Department. Everyday, dozens of the illegal trucks reach the NWFP without permits, TheNation learnt. The sources alleged that police officials at Barian checkpoint take Rs 4000 while the Food Department officials get Rs 6000 for clearing each of the trucks. TheNation was further told that the local licence holders of the flour trade too, were part of the illegal business. They help the truck owners in clearing the Barian check-post after receiving the hefty amounts. It is worth-mentioning here that legal transportation of flour from Punjab to the NWFP requires permits and approval from the Punjab Food Department. Babar Khan, District Food Controller, Rawalpindi, when contacted, told TheNation that two thousand tonnes of flour was being transported from Punjab to the NWFP as per the flour trade agreement between the two provinces. He further informed that seven permit letters were issued to PML-N MNA Murtaza Abassi for flour transportation from Punjab to the NWFP while some other traders too, were authorised by the DDO, Revenue, to transport three hundred bags of the commodity from Punjab to the NWFP. The DFC also observed that the nearby areas of Murree, like Barian, Sawar Gali and Ghora Gali, had scattered populations and the masses of the said areas were interlinked. Therefore, he said, the possibility of exchange of flour trade among the masses could not be ruled out. When 2000 tonnes of flour bags are being transported daily and people across the provincial borders are interlinked, there might be certain loopholes which allow for the illegal trade of the commodity. Food Department alone cannot be held responsible. Murree police, intelligence agencies, special branch and food department, all of us strictly monitor the transportation of flour, he added. TheNation also contacted ASP Murree, Dr Atif Ikram, to get his version in this regard. Dr Atif said that he was strictly inspecting the check-posts and provincial bordering areas to eradicate the flour smuggling. Atif said that he was transferred from Murree during Governor Rule. I was transferred from Murree last month. I have been posted here again and have assumed the charge today (Monday). I would strictly monitor the flour smuggling on mandatory basis, he added. Meanwhile, the legal permit holders of the flour trade have demanded of Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shehbaz Sharif to take immediate action against the illegal flour trade.