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Som Distilleries and Breweries in hot water over child labour investigation

Indian authorities have impounded a distillery operated by Som Distilleries and Breweries after children were found working at the site illegally.

Som Distilleries and Breweries in hot water over child labour investigation
Source: iStock

The authorities said on Wednesday they were impounding one of the Som Group’s distilleries and temporarily suspending the plant’s manufacturing licences after the federal child rights agency found 59 children working at the site illegally.

Police launched an investigation after the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) found 39 boys and 20 girls working at the factory last week.

The child rights agency released photos of children’s hands and said they revealed burns due to contact with chemicals.

In a move to distance itself from the claims, the company said in a statement to the stock exchange earlier this week that the issue was related to a plant run by its “associate private limited company” which used labour supplied by contractors, who may not have carried out proper age checks.

It has now said the services of these private contractors have been terminated, and the company is cooperating with the authorities.

Som did not respond to Reuters‘ request for comment, where this story was previously published.

The company’s shares have fallen 7% this week.

Some of the children found working at the distillery were transported to the factory in school buses, NCPCR Chief Priyank Kanoongo told Reuters on Wednesday. “They were enrolled in a school and would come in school buses. So people thought they were going to the school, but they worked in the liquor factory,” Kanoongo said.

Som Distilleries and Breweries manufactures beer, spirits and RTDs in India. The company is responsible for beer brands Hunter and Woodpecker, and produces spirits including Pentagon Gold Edition Whisky, Milestone Blue and Legend Premium Whisky, White Fox Vodka, Milestone Brandy, Pentagon Rum and Black fort Rum. Its brands are available in over 20 markets including the US, New Zealand and the UK.

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