Lord Paul also expressed his wish to be involved in the field of education in the state
Leading non-resident Indian industrialist Lord Swraj Paul has assured West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee 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 over tea at his London residence on Wednesday 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.
Caparo T1, described as the fastest car on the road, was created in composites by British automotive giant Mclaren's team and 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 and the machinery was moved out.
"As far as we are concerned 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.
As part of his commitment to the state, he will also provide Banerjee's delegation with detailed literature on three other products launched in the rest of India -- multi- purpose e-rickshaws, bio-toilets and pre-fabricated houses made out of composites.
"We are leaders in composites today. I have promised to send all the literature from my Delhi office to the Bengal finance minister [Amit Mitra]. When he is ready, I will send my team from Delhi and London to discuss and finalise the details," 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.
Over the tea party at his London home, Lord Paul also shared some personal anecdotes involving his interactions with former prime ministers like Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher with the visiting chief minister, whom he nicknamed choti didi.
"We have had a lot of prime ministers in this home, lots of women. It is an honour to have you here," he said.
Banerjee also asked Paul to adopt Kolkata Zoo and support it in the same way as the London Zoo.
She also deputed a member of her delegation to lead an inspection mission to the London Zoo to be able to take the proposal forward.
Paul had stepped in to save the London Zoo from bankruptcy back in 1993 with a one million pound 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 the UK before she flew back to Kolkata. She cut short her UK visit because of a 48-hour warning over Cyclone Hudhud hitting the Bay of Bengal.
Image: Lord Swraj Paul