India, Nov. 14 -- The Union environment ministry has relaxed norms for the coal mining sector and thermal power stations, allowing thermal plants to change their source of coal irrespective of its ash content or mode of transport from the source.

This means that coal will be allowed to be transported by trucks covered with tarpaulin sheets, even if the source of the raw material is located a long distance away.

The change was made in an office memorandum issued by the ministry on November 11, and comes after demands by thermal power plants, who said that the constraints were leading to delays in obtaining coal from new domestic sources.

"All the thermal power plants having environmental clearance can change the coal source (from import...