The Cost of Beer: 58 Child Workers with Burnt Hands Rescued from Som Distilleries, the Maker of Hunter, Woodpecker Beer
Moneylife Digital Team 17 June 2024
The next time you consume 'Hunter' and 'Woodpecker' beers as well as Pentagon Gold Edition Whisky, Milestone Blue and Legend Premium Whisky, White Fox Vodka, Milestone Brandy, Pentagon Rum and Black Fort Rum, remember the company was caught using child labour, underpaying them and also ignoring safety concerns while making them work with chemicals! As many as 39 boys and 19 girls were rescued from a distillery owned by the JK Arora family's Som Distilleries and Breweries Ltd in Madhya Pradesh (MP)'s Raisen district.
Many of these 58 rescued children have the skin on their hands burnt due to exposure to chemicals used in manufacturing liquor in the distillery. On Saturday, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), with the Association of Voluntary Action, also known as Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), led the crackdown at Som Distilleries, owned by the JK Arora family. 
Sharing photos from the distillery on X (erstwhile Twitter), Priyank Kanoongo, chairperson of NCPCR, says, "Due to being in contact with chemicals, the skin of many children's hands has also been burnt. Action is being taken to rescue the children and register a first information report (FIR). Notice is being issued to the state government to take action against the excise officer."
In a statement, BBA says, "Children with severely burnt and wounded hands from exposure to harsh chemicals and alcohol were transported daily by their employer in a school bus, where they worked for 12-14 hours every day. The children confessed that they were hardly paid any wages." 
However, after the raid, the NCPCR chairman alleged that the 39 children rescued from Som Distillery were missing. "The local administration has not adhered to the laws to protect and safeguard children. After rescuing the children, the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) was supposed to take their statements, and the child welfare committee (CWC) had to make arrangements for their rehabilitation. At 1:30pm, we were told that the concerned authorities were being sent there. The SDM reached after five hours, while the additional district magistrate (ADM) reached after seven hours. The culprits used the darkness, and the 40 children were taken somewhere... We do not know if the kids have been kidnapped, abducted, or allured..." 
"An FIR was registered under bailable sections. Various kinds of compensation amounting to Rs5 lakh-Rs10 lakh that was supposed to be given to the children cannot be given now (since they are missing). The chief minister (CM) has suspended an official at midnight and taken action against him, which has sent a big message. As a result, other officials are now looking for the disappeared children," Mr Kanoongo added.
Last Friday, the NCPCR also rescued 36 children, including 25 girls, from three factories in Mandideep town from the same district.
Som Distilleries and Breweries is primarily engaged in brewing, fermentation, bottling, canning and blending beer and Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL). It currently has an installed capacity of 23mn (million) cases through itself, and its two subsidiaries spread across 23 states and Union territories (UTs). In the past five years, the company has tripled its capacities. The company has three millionaire strong beer brands in its portfolio. It also supplies draught beer from its plants. 
1 month ago
SOM Distilleries must be SHUT DOWN & ARORA family made accountable by State Govt. Key actions under Court should be initiated till ALL 40 CHILDREN are located & found on top priority
1 month ago
1 month ago
If we have unemployment protection commute then this could not happen?
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