New Delhi Between 2006 and 2009, for a number of relatively obscure firms, getting hold of a coal block was akin to stumbling on a goldmine.

The findings of an internal report conducted by the coal ministry on the allocation of resources to private players show that in order to bag a prized mine, applicants were willing to go to any extreme. Take the case of Shree Veerangana Steels, which was allocated three coal blocks in Yavatmal district in Maharashtra in 2005. This company simply does not exist any more.