Lord Swraj Paul has assured Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal, that his company is committed to make the state its first choice for manufacturing a new small car.
The London-based Caparo Group chairman told Banerjee during an informal meeting at his London residence last Wednesday (29) that a new variant of Caparo T1 is likely to set up base in her state.
“I would love to do more in Bengal. We are in the process of designing a car that is smaller and cheaper than Caparo T1 and we are in discussions with some of the best engine manufacturers. Once that design is complete and perfected, Bengal will be the first place I will look at for production. This is my commitment,” he said.
“And this is not only my commitment but also my son Angad [Caparo Group CEO] is committed to it because he loves fast cars,” he added.
The Caparo T1, described as the fastest car on the road, was created in composites by British automotive giant Mclaren’s team. Its newer compact version is currently being made market-ready, with West Bengal as a potential manufacturing base.
“We are grateful. Please also request your other industrialist friends to invest in Bengal,” Banerjee said.
Lord Paul also made reference to Caparo’s factory in Singur, which was to supply automotive parts to Tata’s Nano plant, but that project had to be shelved.
“We bought the land from the West Bengal government and either we can build a factory there or get our money back, but we would be happy to invest in Bengal,” he said.
In his capacity as chancellor of Wolverhampton University and former chancellor of Westminster University, Lord Paul also expressed his wish to be involved in the field of education in the state. “A subject close to my heart, which Didi also shares, is education. We would love to help out in the education field.
“My personal interest is in the education of girls. I will do whatever can be done,” he said, inviting the chief minister to officially open a new wing at Loreto College in Kolkata, named after his wife Lady Aruna Paul who studied and taught there.
During the meeting, Banerjee also appealed to Lord Paul to adopt Kolkata Zoo, in the capital city of West Bengal, and support it in the same way as he did the London Zoo.
The businessman had stepped in to save the London Zoo from bankruptcy in 1993 with a £1 million donation to fund a new children’s zoo section in memory of his late daughter Ambika’s love for the place.
The informal meeting with Lord and Lady Paul and their daughter Anjali was Banerjee’s final engagement in Britain before she flew back to Kolkata. She cut short her UK visit due to a 48-hour warning over Cyclone Hudhud hitting the Bay of Bengal.