Badals buying smaller transport companies, CM Amarinder’s new transport policy yet to take off

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Capt Amarinder Singh needs to think out-of-box solutions to fight the hegemony of the Badals in the transport business, in case he is serious

The Hush Post: A subsidiary of Orbit Aviation owned by Sukhbir Badal, has bought a number of transport firms in Himachal Pradesh, including Leo Travels, Swagtam, Northern Travels, Luxmi Holidays, Tanishq Travels and Apsara Travels. These companies ply four to 20 Volvo buses from the most famous tourist hubs, Manali and Dharamshala to the national capital. Metro Eco Resorts also owns Oberoi run Orbit Resorts in Gurgaon and Sukhvilas in New Chandigarh.

Even in Punjab the Badals seem to have a field day. This despite Capt Amarinder Singh saying when he came to power that he will provide an equal play field to transporters hinting indirectly at stopping the monopoly of Badals. People then thought this would doom the Badals’ multi-pronged business which they have expanded through money and muscle power across the state, and in the neighbouring states too. Even as Badals are on the verge of finishing competition, Capt Amarinder seems to be turning a blind eye and letting the arm-twisters have a field day.

The Badals, whose name does not appear in most of their business firms actually run by them, are on a transport company buying spree, they have taken over control of all bus permits of one transport company, while talks are said to be in the final stages to buy permits of three other transporters, according to media reports. The Badals have started penetrating in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh as well. The Indo-Canadian Transport Company, reportedly owned by the Badal family, has bought many small and medium transport companies in Himachal that ply Volvo buses from Manali and Dharamshala to Delhi.

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Indo-Canadian bus escorted by police.
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Badal bus on fire after crushing father-son to death in Ludhiana.

Applying arm twisting techniques like buying pick-up points of private transport companies, maneuvering bus time-table at the bus stops to favour their own transport companies as their buses are given up to 10 minutes’ halt at bus stands instead of 2-minute time given to other private transporters, small firms have no option left but to sell their business to big players, which means Badals in Punjab. They pay hefty amounts in return to sellers and a written promise not to enter the business ever again.

Badals directly and indirectly own most of the transport companies in Punjab – Orbit Aviation,  Indo-Canadian Transport Company,  Shan-e-Punjab Transport, Hargobind Travels, Taj Travels,  Dabwali Transport Company Limited among a few. They are share holders in many companies in cable business, liquor trade, sand cartels and hotel industry. The family’s transport and media business was floated under subsidiaries of Orbit Resorts after the Badals came to power in 2007.

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