National People's Congress Chairman Li Peng has urged officials to speed up the relocation of people affected by the Three Gorges Dam and to maintain strict quality controls over the construction work. He told officials during a visit to the project in Hubei province they 'should relocate displaced people through every means possible'. 'We have to relocate about 450,000 people before 2003,' mainland papers yesterday quoted Mr Li as saying. 'Local governments must set up responsibilities and targets for individual officials so we can finish the job on schedule.' He urged local authorities to find work for relocated people. 'Those who have been relocated because of the project should work hard to build a new home.' he said. Mr Li assured officials in charge of the project the central Government would provide them with enough funds. 'The money for the construction of the Three Gorges project is well in place. We are confident we can provide favourable conditions for good work,' he said. Mr Li called on officials to guarantee quality in the project's construction. 'It is necessary to fully utilise advanced technologies to maintain a high standard of engineering.' he said. It is estimated that about two million people will be affected by the huge project, which has aroused strong opposition from environmental and human rights activists. Premier Zhu Rongji made a veiled criticism of the project while touring the area in May. He cited concerns about environmental degradation, poor engineering and corrupt officials frittering away relocation funds. Friends of the Earth in Hong Kong said it would raise its fears over the dam project at Wuhan University today, when Chinese and foreign experts take part in a conference on the environmental future of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers.