Stating that universities in the State should not merely function as institutions doling out degrees, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday urged varsities to build themselves into centres of innovation.“We see universities as hubs of innovation and not merely as institutions giving out degrees. If we fail to generate merit in our varsities, then we will not be able to build a competent human resource force. Hence, I appeal to all universities to focus more on skill development,” he said, pointing out that the service sector was set to grow massively in the near future owing to a number of provisions announced in the recent Union Budget.Mr. Fadnavis was speaking in Solapur district on the occasion of the groundbreaking ceremony for the new administrative building and exam centre of the district’s Punyashlok Ahilyadevi Holkar Solapur University.“It is the responsibility of a university to churn out a skilled workforce in order to build the economy,” said the Chief Minister, who also approved of setting up of a chair named after Ahilyadevi Holkar, the legendary 18th century queen, at the varsity while assuring funds for its expansion activities.Mr. Fadnavis later performed the groundbreaking ceremony for a housing scheme project for journalists in Solapur.“Our government has already extended the coverage of Mahatma Phule JanArogya Yojana to journalists and now, a pension scheme for them will be implemented in a month’s time,” he said, speaking on the occasion.Stating that the BJP-Sena government was working extensively to implement housing schemes in the state for every section of society, he remarked that the government was eager to provide affordable housing to journalists in every district in Maharashtra and was currently working on it.A total of 238 houses are to be constructed with the help of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) scheme for the Solapur Working Journalist Housing Society.Mr. Fadnavis was in the district ahead of the annual puja (worship) of Lord Vitthal in the temple town in Pandharpur. Mr. Fadnavis will offer worship early morning Friday. Last year, the quota agitation by Maratha outfits had compelled Mr. Fadnavis to cancel the annual worship event.