Here I am at both an advantage and disadvantage as a reviewer. I know Hartman De Souza. He is a friend. Fortunately, we have also always spoken our minds.

A fellow journalist at the time, he introduced me to historical and emotional nuances of Goa and Goans in New Delhi in the late 1980s. I finally moved to Goa in 2004, sloughing off a career in mainstream media to independently research and write on matters of conflict and human rights.

With this immersion has arrived substantial awareness of how Goa has been pillaged, how grand plans in the garb of development exist to continue this pillage and, also, that Goa is ever more a willing concubine, perhaps fatally addicted to the all-too-easy-money that mining, construction and tourism bring. While I have written of these matters in a book and several articles, my work cannot replace that from a Goan’s heart and soul. And so I introduce De Souza’s book Eat Dust: Mining and Greed in Goa as an emotional and very personal outburst against this Goa of coin — these Goans of coin. Mining of iron ore, which has brought wealth to a few but misery to many, in particular, the indigenous communities whose lands and village commons have been the hardest hit, is the bedrock of his review of a society in churn. Things got so bad that, spurred by the Justice MB Shah Commission’s report on illegal mining of iron ore and manganese in Goa and elsewhere that was tabled in Parliament, the government of Goa was compelled to ban mining in late 2012.

To De Souza, feeling is as important as fact, sometimes more so. When streams are choked with mining detritus, to his overwrought ears their reduced trickle is like a widow’s lament. This denial of water, a life-force, is as much a leitmotif for his book as a denial to people he identifies with, the Gavde, a community he describes as wronged and trapped into the downstream economy of mining. This is typical of De Souza’s book, where everything is worn on the sleeves, quite like the dressage of present-day Goa: one sleeve cuff-linked, the other tattered.

The most wrenching chapter, besides being the best-written one in the book, is surely ‘Remembering Paik’s Temple’, a paean to an eponymous warrior-deity, a protector of the waters. In De Souza’s telling, the villagers of Cawrem suddenly realised what mining had wrought. The socially disadvantaged Velip of the village, especially the women, saw their lives, fields and streams choked with ore dust, even as the money their children earned from selling ore-rich land to miners was used to flash hip urban clothing, consumer electronics and new vehicles. Back in 2010 the women tried to band together in a “back-to-agriculture platform”, he writes — echoing also a not-always practical solution to mining that he offers in the book.

Beside portrayals of village communities, the true value of this book may be De Souza’s proclivity to name names, in his book the devils of depredation, those who he marks as having wrenched Goa from a life of rural idyll to a helter-skelter prosperity. Politicians from the first chief minister of Goa, Dayanand Bandodkar and his family to arguably the most destructive from the perspective of mining, Pratapsingh Rane and a sub-species all by himself, Digambar Kamat, find prominent mention. The pre-eminent mining families, “Dempo, Salgaocar, Timblo and Chowgule” are part of the rogues’ gallery. The Timblos, whose depredations and glib media handling I too have seen firsthand at one of their mining operations not far from his sister Cheryl’s farm — indeed, at the invitation of Cheryl — come in for special contempt and exposure. Refreshingly, facts unerringly follow feeling.

Cheryl’s firm refusal to sell her ore-rich land to Joaquim Alemao, a powerful Goan politician from a family of supremely aggressive provenance, and her mother Dora’s courage in standing by her daughter and standing up to the mining operations of another powerful politician, Dinar Tarcar, is today part of Goa’s activism legend — and part of Eat Dust . So is the complicity of mining interests and media, easily accomplished as the Dempos, Salgaocars and Timblos own several major Goan newspapers between them.

However, De Souza’s review is also often a rant. There is a shrillness of purpose, and a touch of paranoia when it comes to the creed of aggressive moneymaking that weaken the otherwise moving —in parts, even mesmerising — narrative of Eat Dust . So the Gavde and their colleagues in social ostracism are the victims, the upper-caste Saraswat Brahmins and upper-caste converts to Catholicism the villains of economics. This logic is blindsided by the entirely democratic and cross-denominational greed that rules Goa, in which upper and lower-caste rulers and the ruled alike participate, every available fact at hand serves this truth, but it is evidently a narrative-spoiler. Secular, pan-social greed is perhaps unsexy.

It also sometimes appears there is no school of protest good enough for De Souza except the De Souza School of Protest. He diminishes the cumulative effect of protests over the years and trumps the efforts of others with his undeniable activist passion. It is as if he, his family and his acolytes are the only ones to not sell out. That is a conceit, and for the good Eat Dust may do to spotlight Goa’s spiralling greed and evident self-destruction (at a time when mining operations have partly resumed), Goa deserves better from the likes of De Souza.

Sudeep Chakravarti is the author of several books of narrative non-fiction and fiction, including Clear. Hold. Build: Hard Lessons of Business and Human Rights in India